Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hi all,

The following news article is, literally, hot from the Press! Well, at least from today's SUNDAY STAR. Here's good news for those who are adopting a healthier lifestyle in terms of a 100% change in their eating habits.... Going vegan on a plant-based diet is the way to go these days... for your physical, mental and spiritual health. Not to mention you are also saving planet earth from climatic change due to the negative effects of global warming. LET's take the cue from our Finnish friends....


Any successful heart disease prevention programmes available? Of course. Just look at the North Karelia Project in Finland.

IN Malaysia, the chief cause of death and disability is cardiovascular disease (CVD), that is, heart disease and stroke, accounting for about 25% of deaths. CVD remains the chief cause of admissions to government hospitals. Yet these conditions are largely preventable as the risk factors – diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, smoking, and obesity – can be prevented, or effectively controlled.

The Heart Foundation of Malaysia was recently invited to share the experiences of the North Karelia Project in Finland in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the community. This programme demonstrates that with the right guidance and effort, CVD rates can go down significantly.

Healthy lifestyle practices work!

The success story of the North Karelia Project demonstrates that healthy lifestyle practice do indeed work. The Project started in 1972 when international mortality statistics showed that middle-aged Finnish men, especially in the North Karelia region, had the world’s highest heart attack rates. Strong public concern led to the North Karelia community-based project to test whether the main risk factors – blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking – could be reduced in the population and whether this would reduce mortality from CVD.

Subsequently, the rest of Finland was included in the project, followed by some other countries (WHO MONICA Project) and WHO CINDI Programme involving Europe and Canada.

There were three key messages put forth by Director General of the National Public Health Institute, Finland, Dr Puska Pekka:

1. More fruits and vegetables, less saturated fat

2. Tobacco-free

3. Hypertension control

Prevention strategies
This national CVD prevention strategies involved health education programmes aided by media campaigns, together with food and nutrition policies, food labelling and price policies, intersectoral collaboration with food industries, community organisations and health services.

Agricultural reforms were introduced, with a shift from dairy farming to farming of fruits like berries and vegetables. Monitoring of quality of meals served in schools and the army was carried out.

Anti-smoking initiatives, together with legislation and public policies such as the banning of tobacco advertising and smoking in public places plus warning in tobacco packages as well as prohibition of sale of tobacco to individuals under the age of 18 were also implemented.

Astounding results
The programme resulted in:

·The total cholesterol decreased by 20% in North Karelia (from 7mmol/l to 5.6mmol/l)

·Systolic BP decreased by 9mmHg in males and 18mmHg in females

·Smoking prevalence decreased from 52% to 31%

This led to a decline in CVD mortality of 75% in North Karelia and 65% in the whole of Finland.

The tremendous success of this CVD prevention model is very encouraging and similar programmes have been introduced to healthcare personnel worldwide.

During the visit to Finland, we learnt how healthy lifestyle measures were effectively implemented through a series of talks and lectures, field visits, and discussions, and we hope to integrate similar activities to our community in the near future.

The Finnish experience was most educational and rewarding. The weather was cold but the people were warm. We learnt much, and much needs to be done now in Malaysia to reduce the incidence of CVD.

Note: Datin Dr Liew Yin Mei is a consultant physician and medical director of the Heart Foundation of Malaysia (YJM). The Heart Foundation of Malaysia is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that was established in 1982. The aim of the Heart Foundation of Malaysia is to help reduce the rising incidence of heart disease in Malaysia through various channels such as public education and implementation of heart health programmes that are designed to encourage healthy lifestyle habits. You can visit the Heart Foundation of Malaysia’s website at or write to us at Yayasan Jantung Malaysia, No 6, Jalan Lai Tet Loke 2, Off Lorong Gurney, 54100 Kuala Lumpur.

This article is courtesy of the Healthy Heart programme by the Heart
Foundation of Malaysia (YJM).

Source :

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