The No. 1 killer for SG Indians

Cardiovascular diseases are the biggest health threat for Singapore Indians.

Indians in general have a higher propensity to die from heart attacks and strokes than any other ethnic community in Singapore.


While cancer is the no.1 killer for Singaporeans in general, the leading cause of death for Singapore Indians is cardiovascular diseases.


What is the reason for this? Are we somehow genetically predisposed to heart disease? After all, the statistics on death of our cousins in the Indian subcontinent bear out cardiovascular diseases (i.e. heart attacks, strokes) to be the top mortality risk as well, being the cause of death of 1 in 4 Indians as a whole.


Perhaps. But most likely not.


The real reason that cardiovascular diseases strike Indians in Singapore or for that matter anyone anywhere can be found in the nature of our diet and our lifestyles. A Caucasian, a Malay, a Chinese or an African is more or less as likely as any of us to contract cardiovascular disease if he eats and lives like us.


Our carbohydrate-heavy meals as well as the copious amounts of sugar we consume, in the form of sweet meats, tea tariks and other dairy products are the chief causes of diabetes, high triglycerides and high low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (aka ‘bad’ cholesterol). Conversely, these types of foods also cause high density lipoprotein (HLD) cholesterol (aka ‘good’ cholesterol) to go down, the type of cholesterol that cleans your arteries. The result plaque buildup in your arteries is what ultimately contributes to heart attacks and strokes. 


That is one half of the equation. The other half of the equation is lifestyle. Most  Singaporeans, given our work pressures and deadlines, find it hard to get regular exercise to work off the calories we consume.  Consequentially, obesity is another contributor to type 2 diabetes. Yet other aspects of lifestyle include lack of quality sleep, stress and smoking.


Today, there is a general lack of awareness about what it takes to prevent heart disease and stroke. Many people simply don’t know that once cholesterol plaque has accumulated in your arteries it is there to stay. By the time you realise it, the damage is already done.


We need to educate ourselves and also educate our progeny, so that they don’t make the same mistakes. If you are in your 40s and 50s it may also be useful to do a stress test or x-ray to determine the extent of the cholesterol plaque in your heart and to assess whether you’re an accident waiting to happen.


Complications from diabetes and what you can do to manage or prevent them.


High blood pressure has been called the ‘silent killer’. If you have it you can still manage it. What you can do.


Comment on this Topic


  1. Great article. There needs to be more awareness that heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other such chronic diseases are not our genetic inheritance but a factor of dietary and life style deficiencies. May I request that your article provide citations of the various facts stated? Would lend greater credence to the article, in my humble opinion..

  2. Our carbohydrate laden diet is silent killer. Too much of simple carbohydrates, less intake of vegetables, unhealthy cooking methods, less physical activity, late night meals… etc contribute to the increase in chronic disease risk among our Indian community. But the good news is , it is in our hands to change it. Let’s start today!

    1. Just cutting carbs especially for dinner, eating healthy meals, and exercising 3-5x a week for 30 minutes to 45 minutes or more will help reduce weight and minimize the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Have dinner by 6 or 7 pm every day. Stop being a couch potato and have an active lifestyle. Agree with Dr. Kalpana…..our health is in our hands. Take action today and change your habits.

  3. Looking forward to a follow-up article on the advisory on carbo & sugar diet relative to the lifestyle nature of pple in their 40s and above. This would be especially useful given the carbo heavy diet Indians consume from Idly for breakfast to rice for lunch & dinner not to mention the evening snacks with addiction to tea and coffee. 🙂

  4. i thought it was diabetes but its good to know that stroke and heart attacks are common factors. good info.

  5. Lifestyle is key to a healthier body.

  6. Can Indian diet become more healthy? Is it possible to have your cake and eat it?

  7. My GP in 2002, told me of this global study which singled out Indians in SG and MY for hypertension.

  8. Besides DNA, heart diseases are common among Indians. The various reasons were cited.
    In our stressed society, sleep depravation and the lack of regular exercise are the primary reasons. Sleep depravation is start of hypertension which, gradually lead to other heart diseases.