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Surviving heart disease requires lots of time and money. Here’s how to give yourself the best chances of recovery.

The thought of getting cancer strikes fear into the hearts of many Singaporeans, but heart disease does not get much attention.

Here are some reasons your risk of heart disease might be higher than you think

Fact 1 - Heart disease is one of Singapore’s top killers

Cardiovascular disease, comprising heart disease and stroke, kills 17 people in Singapore every day and also account for 29.2% of all deaths in 2018.1 By contrast, cancer, often cited as Singapore’s top killer, kills about 15 people every day.2

The term heart disease encompasses several conditions that result from the narrowing, blockage and stiffening of blood vessels. Heart disease can manifest in a variety of ways, including heart attack or stroke.

The onset of heart attack or stroke often takes patients by surprise. Warning signs of stroke include weakness in the face or arm, difficulty in speaking or swallowing, numbness, confusion, dizziness and severe headache3 . Meanwhile, heart attack symptoms can include a choking sensation, heart burn, nausea, shortness of breath, palpitations and giddiness.4

Stroke and heart attack need to be spotted and treated early in order to prevent death or permanent disability.

Fact 2 - Singaporeans underestimate the threat of heart disease

Cancer tends to monopolise conversations about the top causes of death in Singapore. On the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) list of principal causes of death, cancer occupies the top spot, while there is no mention of heart disease.5

So why is heart disease not listed as a leading cause of death?

The reason is that there are several entries on the list of principal causes of death that can be attributed to heart disease and stroke. These include ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, hypertensive diseases and other heart diseases, which are listed by MOH as the third, fourth, sixth and seventh principal causes of death respectively.

If you add up the number of deaths caused by these four conditions, you will find that in total they caused more deaths than cancer, accounting for almost 1 out of 3 deaths.6

Despite its prevalence, heart disease continues to be underestimated. In a 2016 Singapore Heart Foundation survey conducted amongst women in Singapore, only 10% of the respondents knew that heart disease was the leading cause of death for Singaporean women.7

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Fact 3 - Heart disease is expensive to treat and recover from

Heart disease can lead to the onset of serious conditions like stroke and heart attack which cost a lot of money to treat, and also require a long period of rehabilitation.

According to MOH’s fee benchmarks and bill amount information8, the median cost of a conventional heart bypass surgery is $8,312 for patients in B2 wards at public hospitals. To treat a stroke with severe complications, the median cost for patients in B2 wards is $2,601.

Heart attack and stroke survivors would typically go through a period of rehabilitation before they can resume normal activities. For instance, cardiac rehabilitation can significantly reduce mortality rates and prevent subsequent heart attacks9, but not all survivors participate for various reasons such as a lack of funds or because it is not covered by their health insurance plan .

Lifestyle changes might also be necessary in order to avoid the risk of a recurring heart attack or stroke. Such changes might incur additional costs, such as stopping work for a period of time, taking on a less demanding job or eating a healthier diet.

To protect against heart disease, insurance is crucial as it can defray the costs of treatment and rehabilitation, and also offer financial support for you and your family during the recovery period.

Fact 4 - A critical illness insurance can give you the best chances of recovery and protect your savings

Critical illness insurance offers financial support in the event of heart attack and stroke, giving you the resources to concentrate on getting better. Hence, you should not skip the critical illness insurance.

When you are diagnosed with a heart attack or stroke, your critical illness insurance plan will pay out a lump sum that can be used in any way you wish, whether for out-of-pocket medical costs or for day-to-day expenses as you concentrate on recovery.

Manulife’s Ready CompleteCare protects heart disease patients from 106 conditions and also has an exclusive Cover Me Again option that lets you restart your coverage even after making a claim.

If you are over 40, Critical SelectCare offers protection against major critical illnesses and age-related conditions. Pre-existing conditions do not preclude you from signing up for Critical SelectCare, so anyone can get protected and enjoy peace of mind.

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    These insurance products are underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Reg. No. 198002116D). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment. There may be high costs involved if you terminate the policy early, and your policy's surrender value (if any) may be zero or less than the total premiums paid. Buying health insurance products that are unsuitable for you may affect your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. This advertisement is for your information only and does not consider your specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not a contract of insurance and is not intended as an offer or recommendation to purchase the plan. You can find the full terms and conditions, details, and exclusions for the mentioned insurance product(s) in the policy contract.

    This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the LIA or SDIC web-sites ( or

    We recommend that you seek advice from a Manulife Financial Consultant or its Appointed Distributors before making a commitment to purchase a policy.

    Information is correct as of 25 November 2020.

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