Dr Yee: Healthy social activities a good way to reduce rising number of suicide cases

Friday, December 28, 2012

Stories by R.S.N. MURALI
murali@thestar.com.my

 

MALACCA: Suicide rates in Malaysia are on the rise. According to the National Suicide Registry Malaysia’s (NSRM), there were 445 suicides as reported.

 

Out of that figure, 347 were men and 98 women while the highest number of suicides occurred by those between 30 and 39 years old (109), followed by those between 20 and 29 age bracket (108).

 

Dr Yee Kok Wah was speaking at the Happy Line Dancing Christmas celebration here at the main stage of Jonker Walk, said the Health Ministry also reported that an average of seven people, mainly youths and young adults, end their own lives on a daily basis that tabulates to an estimated 140 people attempting suicide each day.

 

“National statistics also show that men outnumber women by three to one, while the Chinese had the highest number of suicides at 48%, followed by Indians (21%), Malays (18%) and other races (13%).

 

“I believe there are lot more people in despair and in need of emotional support,” Dr Yee said.

 

He said there is a great need to create awareness and healthy activities and line dancing is indeed a good avenue for such people to release tension and mix about socially to eradicate or reduce their personal problems.

 

Read more here.

Don: More youngsters suffering from diabetes

Sunday December 23, 2012

 

UALA LUMPUR: Some 300,000 young people in the country are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), according to Universiti Sains Malaysia endocrinologist Prof Datuk Dr Wan Mohamad Bebakar.

 

He said the number was expected to increase as the number of T2DM patients worldwide was expected to almost double from the current 230 million to 440 million by 2030.

 

He said this meant the risks were higher for more young people to suffer from diabetes complications.

 

“The fact is 20.8% of the Malaysians are suffering from T2DM right now, 5% of whom are young people aged between 20 and 25.

 

“The percentage is clearly bigger than in the United States which only recorded 2% of young people suffering from T2DM,” he said .

 

Read more here.

Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

What are NSAIDs and how do they work?

 

Prostaglandins are a family of chemicals that are produced by the cells of the body and have several important functions. They promote inflammation, pain, and fever; support the blood clotting function of platelets; and protect the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid.

 

Prostaglandins are produced within the body’s cells by the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX). There are two COX enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. Both enzymes produce prostaglandins that promote inflammation, pain, and fever. However, only COX-1 produces prostaglandins that support platelets and protect the stomach. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) block the COX enzymes and reduce prostaglandins throughout the body. As a consequence, ongoing inflammation, pain, and fever are reduced. Since the prostaglandins that protect the stomach and support platelets and blood clotting also are reduced, NSAIDs can cause ulcers in the stomach and promote bleeding.

 

 

For what conditions are NSAIDs used?

 

NSAIDs are used primarily to treat inflammation, mild to moderate pain, and fever. Specific uses include the treatment of headaches, arthritis, sports injuries, and menstrual cramps. Ketorolac (Toradol) is only used for short-term treatment of moderately severe acute pain that otherwise would be treated with opioids. Aspirin (also an NSAID) is used to inhibit the clotting of blood and prevent strokes and heart attacks in individuals at high risk. NSAIDs also are included in many cold and allergy preparations.

 

Read more here.

Insulin Resistance

If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, chances are that you’ve heard of the medical term insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome describes a combination of health problems that have a common link — an increased risk of diabetes and early heart disease.

 

The cluster of medical conditions that make up the insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome places a person at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It is estimated that 34% of adult Americans have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

 

Diseases or conditions associated with insulin resistance include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

 

What Is Insulin Resistance?

Normally, food is absorbed into the bloodstream in the form of sugars such as glucose and other basic substances. The increase in sugar in the bloodstream signals the pancreas (an organ located behind the stomach) to increase the secretion of a hormone called insulin. This hormone attaches to cells, removing sugar from the bloodstream so that it can be used for energy.

In insulin resistance, the body’s cells have a diminished ability to respond to the action of the insulin hormone. To compensate for the insulin resistance, the pancreas secretes more insulin.

People with this syndrome have insulin resistance and high levels of insulin in the blood as a marker of the disease rather than a cause.

Over time people with insulin resistance can develop high sugars or diabetes as the high insulin levels can no longer compensate for elevated sugars.

 

What Are The Signs of Insulin Resistance Syndrome?

The signs of insulin resistance syndrome include:

  • Impaired fasting blood sugar, impaired glucose tolerance, or type 2 diabetes. This occurs because the pancreas is unable to turn out enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance. Blood sugar levels rise and prediabetes or diabetes is diagnosed.
  • High blood pressure. The mechanism is unclear, but studies suggest that the worse the blood pressure, the worse the insulin resistance.
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels. The typical cholesterol levels of a person with insulin resistance are low HDL, or good cholesterol, and high levels of another blood fat called triglycerides.
  • Heart disease. The insulin resistance syndrome can result in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and an increased risk of blood clots.
  • Obesity. A major factor in the development of insulin resistance syndrome is obesity — especially abdominal obesity or belly fat. Obesity promotes insulin resistance and negatively impacts insulin responsiveness in a person. Weight loss can improve the body’s ability to recognize and use insulin appropriately.
  • Kidney damage. Protein in the urine is a sign that kidney damage has occurred, although not everyone uses this component to define insulin resistant syndrome.

Read more here

Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

 

Cholesterol is a chemical compound that is naturally produced by the body and is structurally a combination of lipid (fat) and steroid. Cholesterol is a building block for cell membranes and for hormones like estrogen and testosterone. About 80% of the body’s cholesterol is produced by the liver, while the rest comes from our diet. The main sources of dietary cholesterol are meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Organ meats, such as liver, are especially high in cholesterol content, while foods of plant origin contain no cholesterol. After a meal, dietary cholesterol is absorbed from the intestine and stored in the liver. The liver is able to regulate cholesterol levels in the blood stream and can secrete cholesterol if it is needed by the body.

 

 

What are LDL and HDL cholesterol?

 

LDL cholesterol is called “bad” cholesterol, because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. LDL lipoprotein deposits cholesterol along the inside of artery walls, causing the formation of a hard, thick substance called cholesterol plaque. Over time, cholesterol plaque causes thickening of the artery walls and narrowing of the arteries, a process called atherosclerosis, which decreases blood flow through the narrowed area.

 

HDL cholesterol is called the “good cholesterol” because HDL cholesterol particles prevent atherosclerosis by extracting cholesterol from the artery walls and disposing of them through the liver. Thus, high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol (high LDL/HDL ratios) are risk factors for atherosclerosis, while low levels of LDL cholesterol and high levels of HDL cholesterol (low LDL/HDL ratios) are desirable and protect against heart disease and stroke.

 

Total cholesterol is the sum of LDL (low density) cholesterol, HDL (high density) cholesterol, VLDL (very low density) cholesterol, and IDL (intermediate density) cholesterol.

 

Read more here.

Government shoring up three main areas of healthcare system

Saturday December 15, 2012

 

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is shoring up three main areas of the national public healthcare system, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

 

“We are building more facilities, providing better equipment and training higher quality human resources, as well as implementing a Quality Improvement and Risk Management System,” he said in his address at an “Evening with the Prime Minister” event organised by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) at a hotel here last night.

 

Najib called for a greater collaborative effort between the Health Ministry and private general practitioners to reduce the high number of non-communicable diseases (NCD) among Malaysians.

 

“The National Health and Morbidity Survey shows that an estimated 80% of patients with known hypertension and diabetes are regularly seeking treatment at the 985 public health clinics and 141 government hospitals.

 

“Perhaps this initiative can be viewed as an example of another Blue Ocean Strategy effort,” he added.

 

Read more here.

Lee: Less than 1% of population are organ donors

Sunday December 9, 2012

 

KOTA KINABALU: Only about 207,300 people have pledged to donate their organs over the past 15 years, when the Health Ministry started its campaign to promote the cause.

 

This is less than 1% of the population of about 28 million, said organ donation awareness promotion action committee chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

 

Community effort is necessary, he said, adding that they hoped to get NGOs and religious organisations to create more awareness on organ donation.

 

“Though the pledges are increasing, it is still necessary to promote greater awareness among the public on the matter,” he said after launching an organ donation promotion road show at a shopping mall here yesterday.

 

Read more here.

Liow: Manufacturers promise not to advertise food, drink high in sugar, salt, fats to children

Thursday December 13, 2012 

By JOSEPH SIPALAN

 

PUTRAJAYA: Food industry players have joined forces with the Health Ministry’s to combat obesity and non-communicable diseases, promising not to advertise any food or drinks that are high in sugar, salt or fats to children.

 

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said members of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers’ (FMM) Food Manufacturing Group have volunteered to implement guidelines on limiting children’s marketing exposure to foodstuff that have little or no nutritional value.

 

“They have agreed to self-regulate. This is an industry pledge, and they will work with advertising associations to make sure products that do not meet the criteria of nutritional value are not marketed to children aged 12 and below,” he said after chairing the 11th Food Safety and Nutrition Council here.

 

The new guidelines are adopted from the global best practices outlined by the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), which promotes self-regulation among industry players by way of a formal pledge.

 

The Malaysian pledge requires that only products that meet company specific nutrition criteria can be advertised to children, be it on television or any other media.

 

The pledge also specifies that companies should not advertise food and drinks that contain high sugar, salt or fat content on television, where 35% of its captive audience is made up of children.

 

Read more here.

Chemotherapy

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy (also called chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.

 

How does chemotherapy work?

Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. But it can also harm healthy cells that divide quickly, such as those that line your mouth and intestines or cause your hair to grow. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects. Often, side effects get better or go away after chemotherapy is over.

 

What does chemotherapy do?

Depending on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can:

  • Cure cancer – when chemotherapy destroys cancer cells to the point that your doctor can no longer detect them in your body and they will not grow back.
  • Control cancer – when chemotherapy keeps cancer from spreading, slows its growth, or destroys cancer cells that have spread to other parts of your body.
  • Ease cancer symptoms (also called palliative care) – when chemotherapy shrinks tumors that are causing pain or pressure.

 

How is chemotherapy used?

Sometimes, chemotherapy is used as the only cancer treatment. But more often, you will get chemotherapy along with surgery, radiation therapy, or biological therapy. Chemotherapy can:

  • Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Destroy cancer cells that may remain after surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Help radiation therapy and biological therapy work better.
  • Destroy cancer cells that have come back (recurrent cancer) or spread to other parts of your body (metastatic cancer).

Liow: Target to reduce AIDS deaths may be reached earlier

Saturday December 1, 2012

 

PETALING JAYA: With rapidly improving statistics, Malaysia is likely to achieve zero AIDS-related deaths before the targeted 2015, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

 

He said that since 1986 when the first HIV-related case was detected in Malaysia, the number of cases had dropped drastically from the highest number in 2002 of 6,978 new cases (or 28.5 cases in 100,000 people) to 2,544 new cases as of September.

 

“If the number of cases per month does not change, the number of new HIV cases recorded this year is 3,392 cases or 11.8 cases in 100,000 people. Looking at this, there is a big possibility that the 2015 target will be achieved earlier,” he said in a statement.

 

He added that among the efforts by the Government to reduce the number of AIDS-related deaths was providing antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment.

 

Read more here.