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Heart failure is a major health problem in Singapore accounting for around 6,000 hospitalisations annually. Singaporeans suffer from heart failure at the average age of 61, about ten years before Europeans and Americans, reveals a 2016 study. The Asian-HF study was carried out from 2012-2015 and involved over 5,000 heart failure patients from 11 Asian countries.

Singaporeans with heart failure were found to have a higher prevalence of three common causes of heart failure—coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes—compared to other Asians, Americans and Europeans with heart failure. Of the 1,066 heart failure patients from Singapore who participated in the study, 62 per cent had coronary artery disease, 70 per cent had high blood pressure and 58 per cent had diabetes.

Heart failure can be prevented

Heart failure is highly preventable, and many of its common causes can be avoided with simple lifestyle changes.

“There is a lot that we can do to reduce or prevent the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary artery disease,” said Professor Carolyn Lam, principal investigator of the study and Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), a member of the SingHealth group. “Most of us will be able to lower our risk of developing heart failure if we keep to a healthy lifestyle through a sensible diet and regular exercise.”

NHCS has developed a mobile app to help heart failure patients better understand and manage their condition. Called HF Buddy, the app includes useful information on heart failure and tools to help users track their blood pressure, fluid intake, medications and other health parameters. The app is available free for download on both iOS and Android devices.

10 tips to maintain cardiovascular health and prevent heart failure

  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Eat a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  3. Avoid trans fats and limit sugars.
  4. Reduce your salt intake.
  5. Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
  6. Quit smoking.
  7. Get at least 150 mins of moderate physical exercise weekly.
  8. Do yoga and meditation to cope with stress.
  9. Seek help from trained counsellors to deal with anxiety and depression.
  10. Control diabetes and high blood pressure with medication.

See previous page for the causes and risk factors of heart failure.

Ref: N18