Health – Apa Pun Share

How to tame the negative self-talk within you

December 3, 2019 | Health, Info | No Comments

There is a saying that we are our worst enemy. Despite how well adjusted you may think you are, a bad day or period of time can trigger off a battery of negative thoughts.

This in turn can cause you to experience everything from anxiety, guilt, anger and even fear.

Additionally, such negative emotions can trigger a vicious cycle of both physical and mental effects: feeling overly stressed, causing hypertension, experiencing bouts of insomnia, spiking one’s cortisol levels – all in all, it’s bad news and a lot more than just unkind, unforgiving thoughts about oneself or one’s situation. 

“We all can successfully reverse the negative spiral of our own thoughts if we practice this [positive speech] regularly,” shares Ralitsa Peeva from Como Shambhala Singapore.

Be it positive affirmations, writing down a list of everything good in your life to actively re-framing a perceived negative scenario, the common denominator is to be mindful and to take active action.

Here’s what Ralitsa advises…


Our usual negative self-talk is remarkably similar across nations, gender, time, profession or age. Most often we beat ourselves with the following phrases:

“I am not good enough.” “If people really see who I am, they will not love me.” “I am such a disappointment.” “What’s wrong with me?” “I should, I have to, and I must.” 

What we say to ourselves in a particular situation defines how we feel but we rarely notice that it is our thought about the situation rather than the situation itself that triggers our emotions.

Our negative self-talk (or negative automatic thoughts) is embedded deeply in our minds and it takes time and practice to become aware of it and to start replacing it with self-compassion, acceptance and patience.  


For example, some of the most common ones, familiar to each of us are black or white thinking (when we think in absolutes with no room for middle ground), catastrophising (when we tend to magnify the impact of events and how awful they would be), personalising (when we take blame and responsibility for anything unpleasant even when it is not related to us), negative filter (when we tend to focus on the one negative comment instead of paying attention to ten positive ones), mind reading (when we believe we know what another person is thinking).


The key first step is awareness. Notice your usual negative thoughts. Pay attention to what is it that your “inner critic” is constantly berating you with.

Learn to notice when that critic has “hijacked” your mind and you are in the spiral of the negative self-talk.

Notice the thought you are holding. Then ask yourself “What is the evidence?” “Is this a fact or is it my perception right now?” “What would I say to a friend who is in a similar situation?” “Is this one of the thought distortions?” “Am I looking at the whole picture?” “Will this be important in one year?”

When you stop yourself from going down the spiral of the negative thinking, take the next step – think what would be a more helpful thought in this situation?

Did your friend cancel on you because she doesn’t like you, or because she’s had a really difficult day and she needs to rest?

Is your boss really in a bad mood because of your job performance or because the planned merger didn’t turn out the way she was expecting? 


Notice if you are in the “poor-me” mode.

Don’t slip into that mood for too long though because the victim mode rarely gives you a chance to look at the situation differently, and learn and grow from it.

Self-compassion involves personal growth work and giving yourself time to rest, to heal, and to replenish your energy.

Take a few minutes off. Treat yourself with the same respect and empathy with which you would treat your best friend.


I encourage clients to put what we call a “titanium shield” where you feel centered, grounded and present and you don’t allow someone else’s storm and drama to spill over because negative moods are “contagious.”

Try to use sense of humour. People who reside more in the negative mood tend to think and speak with phrases like “always” and “never.”

Challenge that; ask “Is it really always true?” Remember that to understand doesn’t mean you have to agree.

You may be present for that person and help them get through an issue but you don’t have to think like them.


Practice the positive self-talk that works for you. Find the positive affirmations that really resonate with you and keep playing them in your mind.

Take a moment to see all the good qualities that you have. Remind yourself how you’ve managed to get through difficult times and to help other people when they needed you.

The more we notice what works for us and what it is that we bring to the world, to our friends and family, the stronger our self-esteem will be.


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How to avoid burnout at work

November 28, 2019 | Health, Info | No Comments

Feeling long drawn exhaustion, unsatisfied with your job and unproductive? You may be heading toward “burnout”, according to a newly recognized World Health Organisation (WHO) diagnosis.

Around 1 million people skip work every day for reasons linked to professional stress. While it is hard to undo the damage, here are the things you can do to avoid burnout at work according to Business Insider.


Life is far too valuable to make work your sole priority. The key to happiness is to find a balance in life, therefore it is important to make time for your own purposes as well.

Use a scheduler or a digital calendar to keep track of how much time you spend in the office, how much work you do at home and how much time you have fully for yourself.


When you’re out of the office, but the thought of work suddenly strikes you, that’s when you know that burnout might be coming.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the evening after work, on the weekend, or during vacation, it is important to disconnect from work in your personal time. Your phone does not need to be always on standby.Also, focusing on different aspects of your life can make you feel inspired and energized when you’re back in work mode.


Not only do vacations help with productivity and creativity, they are also good for your mental health.

Working through your vacation days might feel right for your career and dreams, however, it is equally as important to take a breather.

Go on a relaxing trip, without the hassle of connecting flights and excessive planning. Even a short getaway nearby can go a long way toward helping you fight workplace burnout.


Another alternative is to work remotely. This way you can breathe fresh air and enjoy the view without the fear of falling behind.

Working away from the office is also proven to increase the productivity and overall work satisfaction necessary for a successful career.


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Kes sakit mental lelaki kerap gagal dikesan

November 27, 2019 | Health, Lifestyle | No Comments

KES Kesihatan mental dalam kalangan lelaki adalah tinggi tetapi kerap tidak dikesan kerana lelaki tidak menunjukkan simptom dan tanda kepada masyarakat.

​Ia berbeza berbanding wanita. Pengurusan kesihatan mental lelaki memerlukan pendekatan sensitif-jantina yang membantu lelaki untuk berfikiran lebih terbuka.

Selain daripada itu, cabaran terbesar adalah stigma masyarakat berhubung stereotaip negatif kepada individu dengan masalah mental dan dikaitkan dengan ‘gila’.

Stigma itu menjadikan individu berkenaan disisihkan kerana berbeza. Stigma itu juga memberi kesan kepada lelaki untuk mencari bantuan kesihatan mental kerana ketahanan mental yang tinggi berbanding wanita dan imej maskulin.

Lelaki lebih cenderung untuk menyendiri dan tidak berkongsi lalu melepaskan rasa atau kesedihan mereka melalui perkara lain seperti melakukan keganasan, mengambil alkohol, dadah atau membunuh diri.


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Alzheimer bukan penuaan normal

November 27, 2019 | Health, Lifestyle | No Comments

Darah tinggi, kencing manis, obesiti dan kemurungan meningkatkan gejalanya yang berkait demensia atau nyanyuk

PENYAKIT alzheimer sangat berkait dengan gangguan progresif yang menyebabkan sel-sel otak merosot dan mati. Penyakit itu juga menjadi penyebab demensia yang paling biasa.

Ia akan mengakibatkan kemerosotan berterusan dalam kemahiran berfikir, tingkah laku dan sosial yang mengganggu keupayaan seseorang berfungsi secara bebas yang biasanya dikaitkan dengan anggapan masyarakat sebagai ‘sakit nyanyuk’.

Petanda awal yang mudah tentang penyakit itu lazimnya senang terlupa akan peristiwa mahupun topik perbualan yang baharu saja berlaku.

Andai kata penyakit berkenaan dibiarkan berlanjutan, seseorang yang mengalami alzheimer akan mengalami gangguan ingatan yang teruk sehingga kehilangan keupayaan menjalankan tugas seharian.

Lebih serius, penghidap alzheimer mungkin tidak dapat memahami perkataan yang biasa digunakan, mengenali ahli keluarga malah menjaga diri sendiri.

Kita semua akan tua. Justeru bagaimana untuk mengelakkan penyakit yang dikatakan sering dihidapi golongan berusia itu?

Perkongsian Mayo Clinic pula menekankan, belum ada rawatan yang mampu menyembuhkan penyakit alzheimer atau mengubah proses penyakit itu di otak.

Peringkat lanjut penyakit tersebut dikatakan menyebabkan komplikasi kehilangan fungsi otak yang teruk seperti dehidrasi, kekurangan zat makanan atau jangkitan malah mengakibatkan kematian!

Justeru apa rawatan berkesan untuk menangani gejalanya daripada bakal menyelubungi seseorang? Ikuti perkongsian Sihat:Aktif bersama beberapa pakar bagi menjawab persoalan berkaitan.

Dunia penderita alzheimer

AMIR Hamdan, 35, risau dengan perubahan ketara bapanya, Hamdan Rais, 67, sejak beberapa bulan lalu.

Pesara kakitangan kerajaan itu secara fizikalnya kelihatan sihat, tetapi kerap ‘hilang ingatan’.

“Biarpun baharu bercakap bapanya akan mengulangi pertanyaan yang sama. Kadangkala saya juga kurang faham apa yang hendak dipertuturkannya.

“Sering juga masalah ingatannya itu menyebabkan bapa saya lupa di mana dia meletakkan barang seperti kunci rumah dan dokumen penting. Jika bertanya pula, emosi mudah berubah, tiba-tiba boleh jadi begitu sensitif,” cerita Amir kepada Sihat:Aktif.

Risau dengan keadaannya yang dikhuatiri mempunyai masalah emosi semenjak pemergian ibu tersayang, Amir membawa bapanya itu berjumpa doktor. Hasil diagnosis, Hamdan didapati mengalami alzheimer!

Jika menyingkap dapatan Persekutuan Penyakit Alzheimer Antarabangsa (ADI), ADI menjangkakan pesakit alzheimer meningkat daripada 35.6 juta orang pada tahun 2010 kepada 65.7 juta orang (2030) dan 115.4 juta orang (2050).

Statistik dalam negara pula, bancian tahun 2010 menunjukkan Malaysia mempunyai hampir 2.2 juta atau tujuh peratus warga emas.

Jumlah kumpulan usia itu dijangka terus meningkat setiap tahun, malah negara ini diunjur akan menjadi ‘negara tua’ menjelang tahun 2030, iaitu apabila peratusan warga emasnya mencecah 15 peratus.

Ya, kita biasa mendengar alzheimer yang lazimnya menyelubungi warga emas. Namun, berdasarkan data tadi, adakah penyakit itu ‘gejala biasa’ yang tidak perlu diambil pusing oleh ahli keluarga terdekat dengan pesakit itu, apatah lagi masyarakat?

Menghuraikan tentang alzheimer, Sihat:Aktif mendapatkan pandangan Pakar Geriatrik Psikiatri, Jabatan Psikiatri dan Kesihatan Mental, Hospital Tuanku Jaafar, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Dr Suhaila Mohamad Zahir.

Jejas fungsi otak

Penyakit alzheimer bukanlah proses penuaan yang normal. Ia suatu penyakit yang menjejaskan fungsi otak secara progresif yang membawa kepada penurunan dalam keupayaan otak untuk berfungsi dengan baik dari segi ingatan (memori), penghakiman, penggunaan bahasa, perancangan dan tingkah laku.

Itu merupakan salah satu daripada jenis demensia yang paling biasa ditemui, jelas Dr Suhaila.

Lebih lanjut terhadap tanda-tanda awal penyakit itu pula menurutnya mungkin tidak sama antara satu individu dengan individu yang lain.

“Namun, gangguan daya ingatan bersifat ringan sebagai contoh lupa tentang nama benda, tempat, kejadian atau kandungan percakapan yang baru berlaku adalah gejala-gejala yang sering berlaku.

“Di peringkat awal, ingatan tentang kejadian yang telah lama berlaku kebiasaannya masih belum terjejas,” terangnya kepada Sihat:Aktif.

Antara tanda-tanda awal alzheimer yang lain jelas Dr Suhaila adalah:

  • Mempunyai masalah mencari perkataan dan berkomunikasi. Kesukaran mencari perkataan yang betul untuk objek setiap hari adalah satu tanda demensia di peringkat awal. Seseorang yang mengalami demensia boleh lupa perkataan yang mudah seperti ‘cawan’ dan menggantikannya dengan perkataan yang lain atau frasa seperti ‘benda yang digunakan untuk mengisi air untuk minum’.
  • Mengalami kesukaran untuk merancang dan penyelesaian masalah serta membuat keputusan yang biasa dilakukan.
  • Keupayaan untuk memahami idea-idea abstrak dan menyelesaikan masalah terjejas. Sebagai contoh seseorang yang mengalami alzheimer dementia mungkin terlupa atau tidak memahami bahawa beliau perlu membayar apabila membeli barang.
  • Perubahan emosi dan tingkah laku. Boleh berubah menjadi murung, cepat gelisah dan bertukar menjadi cepat terganggu sama ada dari segi percakapan atau tingkah laku. Emosi menjadi lebih sensitif dan cepat berubah-ubah tanpa alasan yang jelas.
  • Perubahan dalam personaliti. Boleh menjadi lebih pendiam atau lebih cepat marah.
  • Hilang minat dengan kerja dan aktiviti kemasyarakatan.
  • Tidur lebih kerap pada waktu siang dan berjaga pada waktu malam.

Sejenis gangguan mental?

Gejala psikologi dan tingkah laku berkait rapat dengan penyakit alzheimer dementia (AD), jelas Dr Suhaila.

Kajian menunjukkan 64 peratus daripada pesakit AD mengalami sekurang-kurangnya satu jenis gejala-gejala psikologi dan tingkah laku dalam konteks demensia.

“Antara gejala psikologi yang boleh berlaku adalah delusi, halusinasi, kemurungan, anxiety dan sukar tidur.

“Sementara gejala tingkah laku adalah seperti percakapan yang agresif, kegelisahan dan berjalan mundar-mandir tanpa tujuan,” kata beliau.

Terang Dr Suhaila lagi, gangguan emosi seringkali berlaku di peringkat ringan (mild) pada fasa penyakit AD. Gangguan tingkah laku dan gejala psikosis seperti halusinasi dan delusi sering berlaku dalam kalangan pesakit AD yang berada di peringkat sederhana (moderate).

Pun begitu, apabila penyakit AD itu mengalami progresif ke fasa advance, gejala psikologi dan tingkah laku akan semakin berkurangan.

Siapa ‘sasaran’ penyakit demensia itu?

AD seringkali dihadapi oleh seseorang yang berusia 65 tahun ke atas. Anggaran prevalens adalah sebanyak lima peratus untuk mereka yang berumur 65 tahun ke atas dan berganda setiap lima tahun, sehingga melebihi 25 peratus bagi umur 85 tahun ke atas.

Namun ia juga boleh berlaku dalam kalangan yang berumur kurang dari 60 tahun, kata Dr Suhaila.

Seperkara menurutnya, faktor genetik hanya kurang lima peratus daripada kesemua kes-kes AD.

Boleh disembuhkan?

Menjawab tanda tanya itu, terang beliau rawatan yang ada boleh melambatkan proses kemerosotan penyakit, terutamanya pada peringkat ringan atau awal tahap demensia.

“Penting mengenalpasti masalah ini pada peringkat awal kerana masih banyak peluang untuk intervensi tingkah laku dan rawatan dengan ubat.

“Dinasihatkan juga untuk mengamalkan cara hidup sihat termasuk menjaga pemakanan, senaman konsisten dan mempelajari sesuatu baru yang boleh merangsang minda,” katanya.

Mengulas bentuk rawatan yang boleh diberikan jelas Dr Suhaila ia adalah dengan:

1 Ubat-ubatan – Untuk melambatkan proses kemerosotan fungsi kognitif. Ada juga rawatan untuk masalah kemurungan, kegelisahan dan psikosis.

2 Kognitif stimulasi – Intervensi stimulasi kognitif seperti terapi reminiscent, kerja-kerja kraftangan, padanan perkataan dan gambar sama ada secara individu atau berkumpulan boleh membantu meningkatkan kualiti kehidupan dan aspek komunikasi pesakit. Sebaiknya, intervensi stimulasi itu berpadanan dengan tahap keupayaan pesakit.

3 Intervensi tingkah laku – Kenal pasti apakah perkara atau situasi yang menyebabkan tercetusnya gejala tingkah laku tersebut. Itu kerana kebanyakan masa, situasi yang mencetus gejala boleh diubah atau diperbaiki agar mengurangkan gejala tingkah laku itu.

4 Terapi psikologi penjaga pesakit – Dalam merawat pesakit AD, kesihatan mental keluarga yang menjaga pesakit juga diambil kira. Terapi sokongan dan intervensi psikologi boleh diberikan kepada ahli keluarga atau penjaga yang memerlukan.


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Any amount of regular running is associated with a lower risk of dying prematurely, particularly from cancer or heart disease, compared to not running at all, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from 14 previous studies with a total of 232,149 adults who were followed for 5.5 to 35 years. During that time, 25,951 of them died.

Compared to individuals who didn’t run at all, those who did were 27 per cent less likely to die for any reason during the study, 30 per cent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease and 23 per cent less likely to die of cancer.

The frequency, duration, pace and total weekly running time didn’t appear to impact the lowered mortality risk associated with running, the analysis found.

“Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity,” Zeljko Pedisic of the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues write in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running, but higher doses of running may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits,” Pedisic and colleagues write.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or at least 75 minutes of intense activity every week.

Ideally, each exercise session should last at least 10 minutes.

Moderate-intensity activities can include things like brisk walking, gardening, ballroom dancing, water aerobics or a leisurely bike ride.

Vigorous exercise includes things like jogging, lap swimming and cycling at a minimum of 10 miles per hour, according to the American Heart Association.

The current analysis, however, suggests that running much less than these guidelines recommend could still make a big difference, the researchers conclude.

For example, running no more than once a week for less than 50 minutes at a speed below 6 mph (or below 8 kph) still seemed to be associated with longevity benefits.

This means running for 25 minutes less than the recommended weekly duration of vigorous physical activity could boost longevity, the researchers note.

This makes running a potentially good option for those whose main obstacle to exercise is lack of time, they say.

But upping the “dose” by running longer than the guidelines suggest wasn’t associated with a further lowering of the risk of death from any cause, the analysis showed.

The analysis wasn’t designed to prove whether or how running might impact death rates.

And the studies included in the analysis did not account completely for other factors that might influence the results, such as illnesses besides cancer or heart disease that could prevent some people from running and contribute to their earlier death, the authors note.

In addition, the analysis doesn’t show how much running is ideal, how fast people should go, or how long or far each workout should be for optimal longevity benefits.


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Mental health is something being talked about more and more these days. The issue’s elevation in the public’s eyes, and the increasingly large amount that people know about it from a medical viewpoint, have helped turn it into an issue with solutions, rather than a dark force that is too mysterious to begin to handle.

No place could have a greater impact on mental health than the office, where many people spend every day of the week. Solutions for managing mental health in the workplace are always being uncovered and explored.

You must know what can be done to help boost mental health in the workplace. So here are some important things to note.

1. Take physical breaks

When you take a break at work, a lot of people find themselves getting out of their office chair, going to another chair, and looking at their phone screens. While you may feel this is relaxing, it is also not advisable from a physical or mental health point of view.

Office life can be so naturally stationary that you miss out on exercise and fresh air.

Exercise helps carry oxygen-rich blood to your brain, helps you sleep better at night, and exposes you to fresh air and the outdoors, all of which have demonstrated to be beneficial to your mood and your overall state of mental health.

2. Be sensitive and kind to others

There are two reasons why this is highly recommended.

First of all, it’s nice to be kind. Not only because others will appreciate it, and it’s an objectively good trait to have, but also because those around you may have struggles you don’t know about, that are helped by someone treating them kindly.

Second of all, it’s good for your mind as well. “Being kind to others, and looking for ways to support those around you, actually increases your happiness.

“It requires so little to show people some acts or words of kindness, and it will make you feel better,” says Sarah McCallan.

That extra boost could go a long way if you do it every day.

3. Draw the work life boundary

One thing freelancers are struggling with is not letting their work sink into their private lives. Well, the same goes for desk workers, too.

You need to make sure that you’re firm about when you’re in work mode and when you can relax.

If the office becomes an all-consuming force in your life, you will start feeling depressed quickly.

However, if you are strict, it will boost productivity and allow you to relax, physically and mentally, much more effectively.

You need to make room for yourself to be an employee and a real person, no matter how difficult it can be.

4. Share your thoughts

The ideal atmosphere for the workplace is a sense of respectful privacy, but with an openness to self-expression when necessary.

“The modern workplace is slowly learning that the embodiment of emotions or feelings of depression and anxiety is not only detrimental to health but also harmful to the company.

“It’s a pity that some corporate incentive is needed to make this happen, but workplaces are trying to make room, and time for people to get things off their chests which will lead to better support for those struggling with mental health problems,” says Emma Jones, a health blogger.

Sharing these things can have a very large impact on how you feel about them, no matter how much you feel, it would be awkward or difficult. It is very important to try to cultivate that atmosphere.


Mental health should be a top priority for companies of all sizes. Employees are not all robots (yet) that can handle immense stress and work versus life balance without breaking a sweat.

Luckily, this list will help you think about healthy mental practices in a productive way.


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Smoking tobacco cigarettes could increase the risk of mental health problems such as depression and schizophrenia, research suggests.

It has long been known that smoking is more common among people with mental health conditions. However, it has been unclear whether smoking could be a factor in causing such problems or is simply a form of self-medication among those already living with poor mental health.

Scientists say they have now unpicked the issue. “What we found was that there was evidence of causal effects in both directions,” said Dr Robyn Wootton, the first author of the research, from the University of Bristol.

Wootton said that while the serious physical consequences of smoking were already known, the new research underlined the importance of preventing people from starting the habit and helping smokers to quit to protect their mental health – whether or not they have existing mental health problems.

“Of course, if [smoking] is also making the risk of mental illness worse then we should be helping individuals who have existing mental health problems to stop as well,” she said.

Writing in the journal Psychological Medicine, Wootton and colleagues report how they compared the risk of developing depression or schizophrenia among people with and without a genetic predisposition to smoking cigarettes. As such genetic variants are randomly distributed across the population – and are not changed by factors such as alcohol consumption, income, exercise or other health issues – the approach is a type of natural experiment that reduces the chances of any link being down to other factors.

The team focused on 378 genetic variants that have previously been linked to whether people start smoking, as well as 126 genetic variants the team found were linked to a higher score for lifetime smoking – a measure encompassing how heavily people smoked, for how long, and if they quit.

Wootton and colleagues then used two separate genetic databases, one including thousands of individuals with schizophrenia and the other including thousands of individuals with major depression, to explore whether the risk of having such conditions was linked to the genetic variants for smoking.

The results reveal that both starting smoking and higher levels of smoking are linked to a greater risk of both depression and schizophrenia. As an example, an individual who smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 15 years but then did not smoke for 17 years had more than twice the odds of developing schizophrenia and almost twice the odds of developing depression than someone who had never smoked.

The team also looked to see whether people with a genetic predisposition to depression or schizophrenia smoked more. While they did indeed find such an effect, it was weaker than for the opposite direction.

However, the study has limitations, including that it focused on people of European ancestry.

Wootton said it was necessary to explore exactly how smoking might increase the risk of schizophrenia and depression, but one possibility was that nicotine influences pathways in the brain linked to mental health problems. That could be important, she added, since nicotine is also found in electronic cigarettes.

Cannabis use might also help to explain the findings, since high-strength cannabis has previously been suggested to increase the risk of mental health problems, and those who smoke have a greater risk of cannabis dependency.

Dr Ian Hamilton, an expert in addiction and mental health from the University of York, said: “While the physical harms of smoking are well known, this research points to the mental health risks of using tobacco. This risk should be communicated widely but particularly to school-age children who might be tempted to try smoking.”


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Heart attack leading cause of death in Malaysia

October 31, 2019 | Health | No Comments

KUALA LUMPUR – Heart attack remains the leading cause of death in Malaysia for the 14th year.

Ischaemic heart diseases, which occur when arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart, continued to be the main cause of death in Malaysia last year with a total of 18,267 deaths or 15.6 per cent of total deaths from various causes, the latest Statistics on Causes of Death in Malaysia released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) revealed.

It was the principal cause of death for males in Malaysia with 12,510 deaths (17.8 per cent) while for females, the principal cause of death was pneumonia with 6,033 deaths (12.8 per cent), it said.

Last year, 172,031 total deaths from various causes were recorded, an increase of 2.3 per cent compared to 168,168 in 2017, it said.

“On average, 50 persons in Malaysia die of ischaemic heart diseases every day,” DOSM said in the statistics released yesterday.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in the United States, the most common type of ischaemic heart diseases is coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease).

It is caused by the build-up of plaque inside the coronary arteries. The build-up can partially or totally block blood flow in the large arteries of the heart.

The condition may be caused by disease or injury which affects how the arteries work in the heart.

Coronary microvascular disease is another type of ischaemic heart diseases which occurs when the heart’s tiny arteries do not function normally.

Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being physically inactive, overweight or obese, and family history.

DOSM said ischaemic heart diseases were the principal cause of death in 90 administrative districts in Malaysia and the highest percentage was recorded in Petaling, Selangor (16.3 per cent).

Urban areas recorded 12,101 cases, double that in rural areas (6,166 cases), it said.

Pneumonia was the principal cause of death in 48 administrative districts with the highest percentage recorded in Kota Setar, Kedah (17.8 per cent).

The number of deaths due to ischaemic heart diseases in Malaysia in 2010 was 9,371 and the figures increased gradually through the years.

The jump increased more prominently from 2016 to 2017 (13.9 per cent) and from 2017 to 2018 (15.6 per cent).

After ischaemic heart diseases, the second main cause of death last year was pneumonia (11.8 per cent), followed by cerebrovascular diseases (7.8 per cent), transport accidents (3.7 per cent) and chronic lower respiratory diseases (2.6 per cent).

On the main causes of death by age group, 4.8 per cent of those aged 0 to 14 died of pneumonia and 20.4 per cent of those aged 15 to 40 died in transport accidents.

The main cause of death among those above age 40 was ischaemic heart diseases: ages 41 to 59 (19.2 per cent) and ages 60 and above (16.6 per cent).


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The hallmark of modern living can be summed up quite nicely with these words: So much to do, so little time. Work, play, family, friends, interests – these all call for our attention and we wholeheartedly embrace the challenges of juggling these many elements of our lives.

Between balancing our needs and finding the time to do so, other areas of our lives may end up short-changed, especially those that we deem not as important, especially meals.

Eating too fast or missing meals because we need to balance the demands on our time places unnecessary stress on our digestive system, and this can badly impact our health.

Heartburn, metabolic problems, heart disease, weight gain, indigestion, feeling bloated, stomach cramps – these are just some of the problems that could crop up if you do not take your time when you eat.

Tips for a better digestive health

To help prevent digestive problems, here’s what you can do:

Chew properly: Thoroughly chew and swallow each bite before taking another bite. Taking smaller bites also helps you chew better.

♦ Drink enough water between meals: As a rule of thumb, you should consume two to three liters of fluids daily, from food and beverages (plain water is the best). This also depends on your age, gender, lifestyle, weather and condition (i.e. pregnant or breastfeeding).

♦ Increase fibre intake: Dietary fibre increases stool bulk and softens it, making it easier to pass. Other health benefits include controlling blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels. Get your fibre from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and other legumes.

♦ More probiotics: Another main component of the digestive system is the gut microbiota, microorganisms serving various roles in the gut. For the gut to be at its optimum level, the gut microbiota needs to be a balance of good and bad bacteria. Consuming probiotics may help maintain the balance.

According to a study conducted by Pusat Perubatan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2018, regular consumption of live cultured milk drinks containing L. acidophilus and L. paracasei showed positive effects on the research subjects’ digestive health whereby their food digestion time from 20 to 45 hours was reduced by five to 15 hours, and they also showed improvements in constipation symptoms.

More clinical trials are ongoing worldwide to clarify the role and explore the potentials of probiotics.

♦ Beware of food sensitivities: Many people aren’t aware that they suffer from food sensitivities, thinking that their recurrent stomach-ache or bloating symptoms are just coincidental. These can affect digestion and nutrient absorption. Dairy products and grains are among the common causes. Consult an expert to detect possible offending foods and improve your digestion. Food sensitivity is different from food allergy.

♦ Practise mindful eating: This means paying attention to the way food is prepared and consumed. It makes you more aware of how your body is affected by your eating habit. It starts from buying your ingredients, so choose more natural produces and less processed foods. Appreciate the food on your table and try to savour the meal. Another way is to use small tableware to limit your portions. These habits help you to eat slower, which aids digestion.

Eating is not only to savour the taste of food and satisfy our hunger, but also to sustain ourselves with nutrients. However, we tend to forget that digestion is also part of the eating process after food disappears into our stomach.

This process is as important as choosing the food we eat. Having good digestion also ensures our body is properly nourished and stays healthy.


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The status quo of medical practice is so deeply rooted in society that most people would not think of treatment options other than drugs, in treating chronic conditions or preventing them altogether.

Healthcare as it is currently practised, is reactionary, i.e. you only seek medical attention when you experience symptoms and sickness.

The focus is on diagnosing the immediate problem and curing the symptoms with drugs or supplements.

Additionally, health screenings that are ordered in this current system only go as far as catching a disease already in the body, not in anticipating and preventing it.

Managing the symptoms of an illness alone brings a high risk of allowing the real problem to worsen, and this happens more often than we think.

By administering medication that comes with its own side effects, you are only applying a plaster to a gaping wound that will become worse if you don’t properly identify the root cause of the issue.

The body is denied the opportunity to heal itself while it still has a chance, and by the time you discover the root cause, you may require advanced care and more medications.

A reactionary style of administering healthcare does have its merits, specifically for urgent and life-threatening situations.

A heart attack, an allergic reaction or an infection are certainly not cases where functional healthcare would be practical, and you would need a health provider’s immediate intervention for such problems.

However, when it comes to chronic conditions that are influenced by everyday choices in daily life, such as the food you eat, the intensity of physical activities, travel plans and more, drugs and other quick response treatments may provide short-term fixes, but falter in the long run.

Consider an iceberg, where what you see is less than a third of the entire thing as the remainder is hidden below sea level.

Chronic illnesses like cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetes are “visible” above sea level, but what causes these illnesses remain submerged, because we aren’t diving deeper for further examination.

On the contrary, functional medicine is a whole-body approach that focuses on customised and personalised care for each person.

This isn’t a new concept either.

As far back as 1889, when the father of modern medicine Sir Dr William Osler was appointed one of the four founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States, he was quoted as saying, ”The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”

What is functional medicine?

The concept of functional medicine revolves around the idea that the cause of most chronic illnesses is due to an underlying dysfunction and imbalance in our internal system.

When building a diagnosis, a health provider doesn’t stop at “what is the problem?”. They also go on to ask: “Why did this happen?”

And the follow-up includes diagnostic testing, counselling and other treatments backed by research and science.

The goal is to correct any imbalances, while ensuring that the patient is equipped to maintain a lifestyle that prevents potential conditions from escalating.

These two questions are the foundation of functional medicine, which also includes understanding a patient’s medical history, symptoms, activities and lifestyle.

From there, it is possible to find out what’s lacking in a patient’s physical system and set a course to help correct the imbalance.

Your health provider will also identify the roadblocks and any potential issues that may hinder your progress towards optimal health and function.

Treatment in functional medicine can involve any of the following:

• Making nutritional and lifestyle changes, such as getting better quality sleep and exercising effectively.

• Eating whole foods instead of unhealthy processed foods.

• Taking natural agents like supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics.

• Taking bioidentical hormones.

• Going for emotional counselling.

• Assessing family medical history and using nutrigenomics as a means of prevention.

• Strengthening the body’s normal healing abilities.

• Precribing drugs if necessary, or surgery.

Additionally, teaching patients about what’s going on in their own body enables them to be more proactive about their own health on a daily basis, leading to better results in overall treatment.

Illustration photo shows various medicine pills in their original packaging in Brussels, Belgium August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Illustration

Diving into the cause

Currently, conventional healthcare leans towards the practice of prescribing medication to help stop symptoms.

For example, if you have pain, you are prescribed painkillers, or if you have sleep problems, you will be prescribed sleeping pills.

But if it is a chronic problem with deeper underlying issues, the symptoms will come back or you may become addicted to the medications.

Functional medicine doesn’t smooth over the problem with drugs alone.

If drugs are indeed prescribed, the main goal is to shift an individual’s physical wellbeing down a path that will eventually not require the use of drugs, and instead, focus on the underlying causes that trigger the symptoms and improving the body’s natural functions.

For instance, the conventional treatment for heartburn is to take medicines that will alleviate the symptoms temporarily.

In functional medicine, the doctor sets a course of discovery to determine the root cause of the heartburn.

If it turns out that what’s causing it is Helicobacter pylori bacteria, your doctor would then take steps to help to put an end to the bacteria, and along with it, your heartburn woes.

Functional medicine also does not assume that a set of symptoms will always point towards the same common ailments.

Patients may display similar symptoms, but the individual diagnosis may turn out to be vastly different, due to individual medical history, physiological makeup and more.

Functional medicine makes going to the doctor a worthwhile endeavour, because when you are receiving treatment based on the root cause of your symptoms, you lessen the stress of taking short-term medication and increase your chances of getting better.

Although contemporary conventional medicine is very advanced, especially when treating acute diseases, emergency trauma or infections, and will continue to serve society, it is time to start using functional medicine in our treatment rooms more frequently.


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