BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Cardiovascular disease remains the second leading cause of death in Brunei, killing 500 people each year, the health minister stated in a message to mark World Heart Day on September 29. 

YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said cardiovascular diseases — including heart diseases and stroke — accounted for almost a quarter of deaths in 2019.

Cardiovascular diseases also contributed to two-thirds of premature deaths among adults aged 30 to 69, together with cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

He said 1,438 people were hospitalised with cardiovascular diseases last year.

The minister added that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to prevent risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. 

The pandemic has resulted in delayed medical appointments; less contact with family and friends; and a reduction in physical activity.

“While the world is still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to realise how important our health and the health of our loved ones are,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said vulnerable groups have developed severe symptoms from the coronavirus, especially unvaccinated seniors and those with chronic health problems.

Themed “Use Heart to Connect”, this year’s World Heart Day commemoration focuses on equity, prevention and community.

Speaking on equity, the minister said information technology can help bridge the gap in healthcare access.

“It enables and empowers everyone everywhere – young and old, men, women and children, patients, community health workers, doctors, and others to use digital tools for better prevention, diagnosis and heart health care,” he said.

In terms of prevention, digital devices such as phone apps and wearables can help individuals stay motivated and stick to their health goals.

“If you have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, do not let COVID-19 stop you from taking preventive and control measures as recommended,” YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said.

It is also important to attend healthcare appointments, the minister said.

“At this time when the pandemic is hitting our country, some of the services may be disrupted or affected, but you can contact the hospital or health centre to ensure your appointment can be moved and renewed. Do not be afraid or miss a given appointment,” he added.