Author(s): Khoo KL
Mortality statistics of Peninsular Malaysia for the period 1950-1989 have been studied in relation to cardiovascular diseases, with particular emphasis on coronary heart disease as an important cause of death. It was observed that among six major disease groups reviewed, cardiovascular diseases which occupied third place as a cause of death in 1950 emerged as the number one killer during the 1970s and has remained so since (with exception in 1980). In contrast, infectious diseases which ranked first in 1950 dropped to fourth position in 1980. Between 1960 and 1980, mortality due to cardiovascular diseases was higher in males than in females. This tendency became less apparent during 1985-1989. With reference to race, the incidence of cardiovascular deaths was highest in Indians followed by Chinese and Malays. Among the specific cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart and cerebrovascular diseases accounted for the main causes of mortality. Mortality due to coronary heart disease has increased by more than three fold over the last 40 years and is still rising. However, mortality incidence due to rheumatic heart disease and hypertension decreased during the same period. In 1965, mortality due to coronary heart disease was highest in the 55-59 age group. In recent years (1985 to 1989), it shifted to the older age group (i.e. 65-69). There was a tendency for higher mortality due to coronary heart disease in males compared to females. Indians had a higher mortality due to coronary heart disease than Chinese and Malays.