Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State (Health) at the Go For Red for Women Luncheon 2014, 29 Mar 2014

Dr Goh Ping Ping, Go Red for Women Spokesperson;

Singapore Heart Foundation Board Members;

Friends from the media;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Good afternoon.

1.         It gives me great pleasure to share this wonderful afternoon with you, here at the Singapore Heart Foundation’s (SHF) Go Red for Women symposium.

2.         Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of death globally. According to the World Heart Federation, approximately 8.6 million women die of heart disease and stroke annually. Locally, approximately 29% of deaths among female residents were attributed to CVDs in 2012. 

3.         Despite the gravity of the situation, a 2013 Heart Health Survey conducted by SHF revealed that less than half of the respondents (43%) were aware of the increased risk of heart disease after menopause and only 40% were aware that they are more likely to have different symptoms of a heart attack than men.

4.         To educate women on heart diseases and empower them with the right knowledge and skills to take charge of their heart health, SHF started the Go Red for Women initiative in 2005, as part of an international awareness campaign dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and control of CVD in women. The aim is to encourage women to take active steps towards better health - because it is only when we take care of ourselves first, that we can take better care of our families.

5.         Heart disease is mostly preventable by managing the risk factors such as obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use, as well as conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels. I am happy to learn that women are now more aware about healthy lifestyles because the survey revealed that close to 9 in 10 respondents believe that exercise is one of the preventive measures to reduce the risk of getting CVD. Equally encouraging is the finding that more than 37% of respondents own an electronic blood pressure monitor at home. These figures imply that more Singaporean women are taking steps to care for their hearts. Good job ladies!

6.         However, we can do more to practice healthy living. Two weeks ago, I launched the One Million KG Challenge (MKC), Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s first and most extensive nationwide movement against obesity. Through the use of incentives, this initiative aims to nudge Singapore residents to achieve and maintain a healthy weight by making small and gradual changes to their behaviours. The target is to achieve a collective weight loss of one million kilogrammes over the next three years. With obesity being a major contributing factor to heart disease and stroke, I hope that Singaporeans, especially women, would participate actively in MKC and work towards a healthy weight and a healthy heart. This, together with efforts from organisations such as SHF, would help create a movement that would encourage Singaporeans to stay healthy.

7.         In addition to achieving a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet, it is important that we do not smoke at all. Furthermore, as stress has become an inevitable part of modern life, achieving mental well-being is also important to leading a healthy lifestyle. Constantly operating under stressful conditions can cause detrimental effects to your heart in the long run. I believe the organiser has arranged for a stress management talk so you can pick up some good tips on managing your stress.

8.         Many have described heart disease as a silent killer. The symptoms of heart disease vary according to the type and severity of the illness. Unfortunately, many heart diseases exhibit no symptoms in their early stages. In addition, the symptoms of heart disease in women may appear to be more subtle, as compared to symptoms in men. Therefore it is important that you go for regular health screening to keep your health in check. Regular health screening can allow for the early detection and prompt treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which are risk factors for heart diseases. If these conditions are well-managed, complications such as heart attack and stroke can be effectively prevented.

9.         As we attend today’s symposium and walk away with useful information on heart health, I hope that you will also enjoy the four-course healthy lunch whipped up specially for you, in addition to the exciting range of activities that have been organised for your entertainment.

10.       So sit back, relax and enjoy yourself. Pardon the pun, but have a hearty day ahead!

 

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