Efforts put into early prevention and detection of chronic diseases, as well as close monitoring by doctors, have paid off. Singaporeans now have longer life expectancy, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. In Singapore, men can expect to live up to 78.8 years and women, 83.3 years.

“One reason why Singaporeans are living longer is better chronic disease management. Primary and community-based healthcare providers have taken a bigger role in managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure”, says Dr Nguyen Minh Ha, Consultant, Department of Geriatric Medicine at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Chronic disease management – key to living longer

Poorly controlled chronic diseases reduce life expectancy unless patients receive long-term medications and follow-up.Cancer, heart and hypertensive diseases are among the top causes of death in Singapore.

Primary care doctors are now able to provide better patient-centered care because of improved communication between doctors, patients and caregivers through our integrated health care system, thus ensuring patients are cared for efficiently,” adds Dr Nguyen.

Medical advances improve early disease detection and treatment

Singaporeans have also benefited from medical advances in diagnostic testing and cancer treatment. Dr Nguyen highlights two specific examples where medical advances have enabled longer life expectancy.

  • Early detection of tuberculosis

  • At 40.9 cases per 100,000 in 2012, tuberculosis remains a disease under control in Singapore. But rising numbers of the infectious lung disease among immigrants in Singapore are a cause of concern. Early detection is critical in stopping its spread in the local community.

    Singapore doctors are already using an advanced molecular diagnostic test, multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that allows early detection of mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

  • New medical therapies for cancer treatment

  • Patients with malignancies or cancers affecting the blood, lymph nodes and bone marrow have benefited from the use of a new chemotherapy agent, Rituximab.

    “This is a monoclonal antibody against the protein CD20 which has significantly improved treatment outcomes of haematological malignancies, particularly, lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia,” says Dr Nguyen.

Read on for tips for a longer life.

Ref: R14