July 15, 2007

Devi Shetty’s heart tips

Didn’t know Mother Teresa was Dr. Devi Shetty’s patient. What’s more, she inspired him to reach out to the poor and the needy. This was, presumably, why the renowned cardiac surgeon gave up his job at a corporate hospital to set up a notably patient-friendly Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore. Where, it is said, no needy patient is turned away because he/she can’t afford the expensive surgery. Dr Shetty subsidises the deserving. An uncle of mine was a beneficiary of Dr Shetty’s benovelance.

According to him, Indians are three times more vulnerable than Americans to this expensive disease. Women needn’t worry till they are 45, because they enjoy till then nature’s protection. So said Dr Shetty in a Q & A with a group of Wipro employees at a meeting arranged by the company. IT professionals among them, who worked to the US time zone, found it reassuring to have it from the guru that those who work night shift were in no way more vulnerable to heart attack than those who do more earthly hours.

I had the transcript of Dr Shetty’s Q & A chain-mailed to me. A subsequent Google search revealed it has been doing the rounds in blogs for a while. I counted 30 and gave it up. Like all other bloggers, I found that the Shetty transcript made such a compelling read that I chose to blog it yet again here. After all, yeh dil ka mamla hai.

Dr Shetty responds to a spate of questions such as whether the incidence of heart disease is hereditary (yes); why walking is preferable to jogging; how irregular food habit impacts heart; how tricky it is to differentiate between an attack and common gastric trouble; and what the heart’s worst enemy is (oil). You know what, Dr Shetty’s junk food list includes samosa and masala dosa. Read the full transcript.


Guru said...

In the West, five portions of fruits and vegetables are recommened each day. I do not agree all oils are bad which includes Olive oil, which is used in Mediterranean countries in Europe where the incidence of heart attack is low. Any diary fat such as butter or more importantly ghee, which is used in the preparation of sweets in Indian homes, has the effect of elevating cholesterol in blood.

Incidence of heart attacks it appears have gone up because walking or cycling is not considered as a 'status' symbol. One can well see why incidence of heart attacks among Indians who are vegetarians have gone up in US. Lack of public transport and danger posed to pedestrians in the streets in US cities and towns meant that car reigns supreme. The craze for yoga and exercise has increased to counter the effect of sedentary life. Yoga gurus have become rich thanks to the life style in particular of NRIs. In my younger days, vegetables were essential part of meals,hence the central place of Devaraja market in every family then. Mysore was very friendly and inviting to pedestrians and air was almost unpolluted. These days use of alcohol and spirits in most families, fried vegetables and saturated fats, love for fast food, use of car as a staus symbol meant that heart attacks are just around the corner waiting for victims. When I visit Mysore, which is not that often, I find that I am the only person walking along footpaths , which in most cases non-existant, and vehicles of all shapes and sizes vying with each other to run me down into a ditch.

Maddy said...

I am not too sure about all this balanced diet thing i.e the exact constitution of a balanced diet, the amount of vegetables to eat,gallons of water to drink etc. Anything in excess is of course bad, and the incidence of heart attacks in Western countries where balanced diet is bandied about is probably higher...

On the other hand, we had ghee in our diet for ages, but not as many heart patients, the reason being an active life style.. It is the sedantary lifestyle of today that kills us..

Nanditha Prabhu said...

this was a good read!
it might be todays life style and food habits which leads to more heart attacks!

Guru said...

The Royal College of Physicians in London, a prestigious orgnisation which trains specialists like cardiologists strongly suggests five portions of vegetables and fruits because these are rich sources of anti-oxidants. I am not talking of balalnced diet, but diet consisting of anti-oxidants.
Ghee, an unsaturated fat is shown through many studies published by British Medical Journal and Lancet as a primary culprit contributing to high levels of blood cholestrol in Indians.

Tobacco has been in use in India, particularly in the chewing form for ages. Trichinopoly was famous for its cigars (read Conon Doyle's Sherlock Home Case Book where he mentions Trichinopoly)in 19th Century. It does not make tobacco healthy.

"the incidence of heart attacks in Western countries where balanced diet is bandied about is probably higher"

This is not true. Only those who eat red meat (a source of unsaturated fat)and take less anti-oxidants are prone to cardiac ailments. Studies have shown that in countries where Salads and Fish are main courses -for example, Southern France, Spain and parts of Italy, the percentages of cardiac cases is low. The combination of anti-oxidants in fruits and vegetables and omega3 fatty acids in fish contribute to this healthy
statistics. Active life with unsaturated fats in diet(like ghee)
does not mean less incident of heart attacks. Those people who lived longer and who did not diet
were lucky because their bodies metabolised the fats effectively. Hence Shetty infers gene contribution. We should remember old age, meaning over 70 was an exception in India. The average life expectancy has improved in modern times.

Maddy said...

Guru sir..
This is a much argued topic. Yes, it is great to eat right things in moderation and be an active happy person. that will provide some longevity unless like Shettygaru said, you have great genes...

The reports are usually a result of studies covering a certain number of available and preselected individuals. That is why they end up with 'suggestions' with a lot of small print disclaimers.

The link between LDL Cholesterol and heart disease is still assumed & not proven and statins are today one of the biggest money makers. But then statins also have many other 'good' side effects!

remember how Coconut oil suddenly became the most dangerous oil around?

and btw tobacco (i am not a smoker) has suddenly been found to have medicinal benifits.


these things come & go as long as drug companies rule. I dont know if you have heard about the peptic ulcer story and the Aussie doc..

hziek said...

The case of H Pylori is slightly different from Cholesterol. The basic scepticism of H Pylori initially was that the stomach with its acidic environment (sterile) could not nourish a bacteria like H Pylori which was later disproved because of the exceptional way H Pylori functions creating a neutral pH environment around it. Gastroenterologists were divided initially about H pylori and peptic ulcer link. But no such division exists in regards to the levels of cholesterol in blood. The role of unsaturated fats contributing to raised levels of cholesterol in many is well proven.

The link between diet and cardiovascular problems are well established.

If you are talking about century old practices in India, here is another one. For tens of years, vessels were internally coated ( in Mysore it was called 'kalayee', and in Tamil Nadu it was called 'eeyam coating') with lead compound or even lead vessels (in Tamil Nadu called 'eeya chombu') were the favourite vessels used by grandmothers for preparing delicious rasam. Indeed I have seen in families-rich and poor these favourite vessels
passed on by mothers to daughters over generations. We now know the problem that lead can create in humans. Not all practices dating back to centuries are good.

About coconut oil, it is rich in unsaturated fats. My uncle's family in Tamil Nadu who cooked food in cocunut oil had a history of cardiac ailments, with a number of them having to undergo angioplasty, until a clever cardiologist discovered the cause. The uncle attributed the problems to genes and believed that the deaths of a number of his forebears were due to genes. The cardiologist prescribed a cocunut-oil free diet for a few years and except a minority, all others adhered to the diet. The cardiac ailments disappeared in the former and angioplasties were the norm with the latter. I know it hurt my uncle and his keralite friends who loved coconut oil, and he used it until he died relatively young with a massive heart attack one day. His brother with his cocunut oil-free diet is still alive in his 90s and his earlier cardiac problems are now history.

About tobacco and medicinal properties. Even cobra venom has its use but it does not mean that cobra venom is good for humans and humans should be routinely bitten by cobras!

Guru said...

Sorry GVK, I must have mistakenly copied the word verification in the place of identity in the previous post!

Further to my comment on H Pylori. Large scale testing was carried out in teaching hospitals in London to establish link between peptic ulcer and H pylori. Against this were the drug companies who stood to lose. This collusion was subtle but nevertheless strong in US where the drug companies influence the ways prescriptions are made out. I was even told by my friend a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, that insurance companies for a time silently discouraged diagnosis based on H Pylori tests. The cases of bacterial links are different from those related to human diet. Here in Europe there is drive from school age for healthy eating and prevention of diet-triggered illnesses of which cardiac ailments
form a set. We feel it is good that children should learn to watch the food they eat. Obesity a common cause for type2 diabetes and cardiac ailments result often from
dietary habits based on unsaturated fats.

Guru said...

I noticed a few Freudean slips in my postings. The bad fat I should mean 'saturated fats'!

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