Singaporeans have one of the world's longest life expectancy, living to the ripe old age of 83.2 years old on average. While this is positive news, there is also a flip side to this statistic – and that's the fact that Singaporeans are spending more time in ill health, especially towards the end of life.
As at 2021, the most common cause of death in Singapore is cancer, strokes, heart issues and diseases, as well as pneumonia, kidney diseases, urinary tract infections and lung diseases occupying the top ten list.
Here, we look at how you can protect yourself against four common health conditions in Singapore.
Accounting for 26.4% of all deaths in Singapore in 2021, cancer is the number one killer here. It is estimated that an average of 44 people are diagnosed with cancer daily, while 16 people die from cancer every day.
The most common types of major cancers that cause deaths in Singapore differ between males and females. Men typically suffer from colorectal (17.2%), lung (14.8%) and prostate (13.0%) cancers, while breast cancer is the top cancer diagnosis for women (29.1%), followed by colorectal (13.4%) and lung (7.5%) cancer. Other common cancer types include skin cancer, stomach cancer and lymphoid neoplasms.
Certain types of cancers can be treated and may even be curable. However, for cancer to be effectively managed, health practitioners constantly advice regular screening to increase chances of early detection.
With early detection, followed by proper management and treatment, you may be able to achieve better outcomes. Types of screenings you can consider include mammograms, HPV tests or even HPV vaccinations, and faecal immunochemical test. Speak to your doctor for details on available screening methods for yourself or your loved ones.
Heart attacks and strokes
In 2021, nearly 1 in 3 deaths in Singapore was due to cardiovascular diseases, putting it a close second to cancers as the most common cause of death.
Cerebrovascular diseases, such as stroke or aneurysms, made up 6% of deaths in 2021.
Many cardiac disorders can be hereditary. If you have a family member who has suffered from or passed away due to a heart condition, you should make it a point to schedule regular physical examinations.
Inform your doctor of your medical history so he or she can administer or advice on the right type of test to screen for signs and symptoms. Tests may range from non-invasive such as X-rays, exercise stress tests, CT scans or MRIs, or slightly more invasive where blood samples may be drawn for additional testing.
Take note that if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, where your bad cholesterol levels have overtaken your healthy ones, you should consider changing your lifestyle by exercising more, increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, from fish such as salmon and halibut, and avoiding fatty foods to reduce your risk of getting a heart attack.
High blood pressure
Another common disease in Singapore that's closely linked to heart attacks is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Although grouped under the Singapore Heart Foundation as part of illnesses that are related to the heart, the Ministry of Health categorises hypertensive heart disease as a separate cause that has led to 3% of all deaths in the country in 2021.
The elderly tends to suffer more from hypertension, with 1 in 2 persons between 70 and 74 suffering from the condition. However, younger people should not be complacent, as almost 1 in 5 people between 30 and 69 also suffer from high blood pressure.
For patients diagnosed with high blood pressure, you can manage it by taking your blood pressure readings at home and take precautionary measures such as maintaining an appropriate BMI, cutting salt consumption, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake and reducing stress, amongst other self-care treatments.
Since 1980, the number of people living with diabetes has increased four-folds to approximately 422 million in the world. Singapore has not fared much better, having the second highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations globally.
In Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's 2017 National Day Rally, he pointed out that 1 in 9 Singaporean are currently living with diabetes.
If not well-managed, diabetes can often lead to other health issues such as heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, blindness and limb amputation. We can protect ourselves from diabetes by re-evaluating our lifestyle and changing unhealthy eating habits.
One way to encourage you in your journey to make healthier decisions is our AIA Vitality programme, where you receive rewards for achieving health goals and making even small improvements to your lifestyle.
Live with peace of mind, knowing you have safeguarded your loved ones' future
Knowing you have sufficient medical coverage in the event of hospitalisation and being diagnosed with a critical illness is a weight off your shoulders. This ensures you will not need to strain your finances or burden your loved ones in order to seek treatment, which may be costly.
Given the advancement of medicine and increasing awareness of early detection, if you have been diagnosed with one of these health issues today, proper management of your diagnosis and making the right lifestyle changes can help you on your road to recovery or avoid escalation into more serious critical illness.
With the right critical illness plan, you will also be able to protect your family's standard of living and focus on what's most important – your treatment and ultimately, recovery – despite the loss of your income.
One solution that you can consider when choosing a comprehensive critical illness plan is the AIA Absolute Critical Cover (ASCC). Not only does the plan cover you for 150 multistage critical illnesses, you may also add on the ASCC Booster to enjoy continued coverage if you are diagnosed with multiple and recurred critical illness.
 Please refer to the ASCC and ASCC Booster product summary and policy contract for full terms and conditions.