5 Tips To Reduce Critical Illness Risk

20 April 2022

Critical illness is prevalent all around the world and Malaysia is no exception. In 2016, it was estimated that 113 400 out of 154 000 deaths in Malaysia were noncommunicable disease (NCD)-related. NCDs such as heart attack and cancer accounted for 67% of premature deaths in Malaysia, and over 70% of the burden of disease (a measurement of the impact of a health problem) in 2014. These are worrying statistics that highlight the need for Malaysians to reduce their risk of critical illness. While there is a wealth of information publicly available regarding this, many of them are false. Here are 5 proven ways to reduce your risk of critical illness you can implement today.

Source: Giphy

Healthy diet

There are many different types of diet that are considered healthy such as vegan, low-carb, whole-food, and Mediterranean diets. Overall, a healthy diet consists of a healthy share of fruits and vegetables, grain, dairy, and protein.


However, it’s often not necessary to be a dietician to understand whether the food you are eating is healthy or not. The issue lies with following the diet. 

Here are some ways to help you follow a healthy diet.

a) Eat healthy but filling food such as potatoes, eggs, and oatmeal. Food that is filling can ward off hunger and help you eat less in the next meal, helping you manage weight. It also helps reduce unhealthy food cravings.

b) Set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For example, 

  • “Every day this week, I will eat breakfast that has a variety of whole grains, protein and fruits and vegetables.”
  • “For April, I will avoid eating processed food and sugar except for Saturdays.”

For ideas on a healthier Malaysian food diet, check out our article here.

Source: Giphy

Regular exercise

Exercise at least three days a week to maintain good health. It helps keep a healthy weight and lower the risk of critical illness. Have trouble sticking to exercise? Mix things up to keep things interesting. Ideas include switching to a different exercise, increasing exercise duration, or using different equipment.

Try getting an exercise buddy as well to accompany you on your exercise journey to provide a combination of competition, accountability, and support. A study showed that working with a partner, especially in a team format, improved performance, doubling the workout time of those who exercised alone.

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Get enough sleep

Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. There may be more obvious ways to get sufficient sleep such as avoiding caffeine before bedtime and making your bedroom comfortable, but here are some effective tips you may not have heard of.

a) Increase bright light exposure during the day. It affects your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural time ticking clock by syncing it to the outside world. The same reasoning applies to reducing blue light exposure three hours before bedtime.

b) Avoid nicotine within four hours of bedtime. It’s a stimulant that disrupts sleep.

Sleep is important. So schedule it like the rest of your important tasks. To find out more about the importance of sleep to health, check out our article here.

Source: Giphy

Avoid smoking

Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of 15 different cancers. Many continue to smoke, despite knowing the adverse side effects. It is notoriously hard to quit. Here are some ways to help.

a) Set a quit date - Evidence suggests setting a quit date results in a higher likelihood of successful long-term quitting compared to gradual smoking reduction.

b) Exercise - Even a 5-minute walk or stretch has been shown to cut cravings.

c) Drink water when you feel the urge to smoke.

d) Identify your smoking triggers so you can avoid or manage them. It helps you anticipate circumstances before you light your next cigarette. Anytime a trigger hits, think of what you can do instead of smoking when the trigger hits. Common triggers include stress, finishing a meal, or driving. If you’re feeling stressed you could take deep breaths, exercise, or talk to friends and family. After a meal, you can try brushing your teeth or doing your dishes. It's tougher to give in with a minty-fresh breath or soapy hands. For driving, you can stash chewing gum in your car so you can have something in your mouth when a trigger occurs.

Source: Giphy

Health checkups

Ultimately, prevention is better than cure. So don’t forget to do your routine health checkups. The frequency of health checkups depends on age, risk factors, and current health status. Generally, routine checkups are recommended as follows:

  • once every 3 years if you’re under the age of 50 and in good health
  • once a year once you turn 50

We can manage our critical illness risks, but never completely prevent them. Starting from only RM7.60 a month, i-Protect financially protects you against the three most common critical illnesses in Malaysia. Learn more here. Check out the rest of our critical illness plans here.