Dr Mukesh Hariawala, an internationally acclaimed Indian-American cardiac surgeon based in Boston, and the recipient of 'India's Most Admired Surgeon 2012' award offers some valuable tips for heart health.
Indians are fast hurtling towards a heart disease epidemic, with various estimates suggesting that by 2015, the country will be the heart disease 'capital of the world'.
There are many factors behind this scary scenario, the primary ones being increasing sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, humungous levels of stress, and unique genes amongst Indians, that increase their propensity to be afflicted by the dreaded 'metabolic syndrome'. While healthcare facilities have vastly improved over the years, experts still insist the best way to tackle this epidemic is prevention, rather than cure, and cite traditional methods of yoga and meditation, as the best bets to beat the disease.
ANI: India is on the tip of a health disaster. We have been reading a lot of reports on obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. Diabetes is going to be one of the biggest killers (in India). These days there are a lot of people who are having major heart problems as early as even 23. Though in a lot of those cases genes have a role to play, you cannot lay it all down to genes. For a common person, given the fact that India is sitting on the tip of this tinderbox, any advice for urban and rural Indians?
Dr Hariawala: Well, before I advise, let me identify for readers that India is going to be the capital of heart diseases by 2015, or somewhere around that period. Indians are increasingly being afflicted with Syndrome X, which is a combination coronary artery disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It is a metabolic syndrome, which is very existent in India. But something very dramatically important is happening in India, that is, young patients, that you mentioned, are now suddenly being seen in emergency room, being shifted to the ICU, or being taken to the Cath Lab for angioplasty, and even sometimes surgery.
Before, this was not happening to young patients. One very important thing has changed in India since I left India in 1989, is that the stress levels within the Indian population are rising significantly, people are wanting to be in the fast lane and they are trying to be over achievers. There is a spillage of catecholamines in the circulation, and whenever you face financial stress, you are more likely to fall flat and reach an emergency room.
ANI: So, in a nutshell, what would be your tips to alleviate the symptoms, is staying cool the mantra for success?
De Hariawala: Well more than staying cool, I think it's going to be yoga and meditation. Meditation is what keeps these dangerous chemical levels low in the body, and so you are much less likely to have a catastrophic event.
ANI: And how much of a role does diet have to play in this?
Dr Hariawala: Well, diet has to play a role because that depends on your digestive system, absorption, and metabolism, but what you can actually control is transformation of your lifestyle like going to the gym, and doing exercise and meditation, because meditation and yoga are probably the best. They are not only curative, but preventive as well by Sanjay Mehra.