Medical Care ,  Health & Wellness ,  Cardiology (Heart)

When Sudden Death is Not So Sudden: Why Men Should Leave No Symptom Unchecked for a Healthier Life and Happier Family

November 07, 2022

Ischaemic heart diseases are the principal cause of death in men, constituting 17.3% of fatalities and sudden death. Screenings are encouraged for men to be aware of asymptomatic silent killers such as prostate cancer, the third most common cancer among Malaysian men.

When Sudden Death is Not So Sudden: Why Men Should Leave No Symptom Unchecked for a Healthier Life and Happier Family

Usually seen as the sole breadwinner in most families, men may be more hesitant to address their health issues to prevent jeopardising their sources of income, but at what cost?

In Malaysia, Ischaemic heart diseases remained as the principal cause of death for men, constituting 17.3% of fatalities in recent years, and there has been an unfortunate increase in the occurrence of sudden deaths as a result. Some of these heart conditions and diseases may occur suddenly as symptoms are ignored and dismissed to avoid talking about the issue or even seek treatment.

Dr Tee Chee Hian, Consultant Cardiologist and Internal Medicine Physician from Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) shares that sudden death can be caused by a variety of heart problems, such as the blockage of the coronary vessel due to ruptured plaque or malignant arrhythmia, for example Ventricular tachycardia or Ventricular fibrillation that leads to no cardiac output.

“The symptoms patients must look out for are palpitation, near fainting or fainting episode with loss of consciousness. Those with underlying coronary artery disease (CAD) may experience chest pain and shortness of breath on exertion – and can lead to sudden death.

“Sudden death can be a result of congenital problems such as Long QT Syndrome, HOCM (Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy), ARVD (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia) or Brugada Syndrome (genetic disorder causing irregular heartbeat).”

With the nature of sudden death being attributed to the lack of symptoms building up to the patient collapsing or dying without warning, Dr Tee shares that everyday difficulties such as lethargy, shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain, postprandial angina (chest discomfort following meals) and reduced effort tolerance should not be ignored as these are all signs of heart issues.

“We were once presented with a case of a 50-year-old man who was a smoker and had no medical check-up records, before he had sudden chest pain while walking in the park with profuse sweating – he was immediately sent to the ER and required CPR. His ECG test showed the result of a malignant rhythm Ventricular fibrillation, and unfortunately the patient did not survive,” Dr Tee shares.

There are steps that men can practice to take better care of their health, including a healthy lifestyle free from habits such as smoking, a balanced diet with more vegetables and fruits, and exercises that promote cardiovascular fitness like running, jogging and cycling.

“Go for regular check-ups to detect any possibility of dyslipidaemia (abnormal cholesterol level), hypertension and DM (Diabetes mellitus) – it is important to target these risk factors of CAD by diet, medication and healthy lifestyle,” Dr Tee adds.