destination india

Friday, November 26, 2004

health consciousness

Allergy is a major irritant to residents of large metros. In India, nearly 200 million people spend Rs12,500 crores annually for the treatment of allergies. Allergy affects people from all walks of life right from the President of India to Sachin Tendulkar to Amitabh Bachhan. Studies have shown that about 80% of asthma patients began their descent into ill health with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) characterized by an itchy and running nose, sneezing and congestion. It is reported that 33% (the all India average is around 25%) of Delhiites suffer from one form of allergy or another. In order to treat these, they spent large sums of money on medications. The main reasons for allergies are pollution – traffic pollution, industrial pollution etc.. Allergy is basically the body’s way of rejecting that which it feels will be harmful – it could be an eatable or a cosmetic or the atmosphere. I know of persons who are allergic to sea food. Then there was a friend of mine who suffered from skin diseases when in his place of work but the complete thing vanished immediately he went back to his native place.

Obesity is another subject that attracts a lot of attention not just in medical circles but also in our living room talks. Practically every day there is some write up in one of the print mediums – whether it is a local language newspaper or not is immaterial. The fact of the matter is that all of us desire to possess a figure like that of a cine-star. Statistics from an American study pegged the number of deaths due to obesity at 400,000 per year – this was a bit of an exaggeration, they admit. But, those concerned about obesity cite it to show that being fat is almost as bad as smoking! Simultaneously, a Swedish research has revealed that women who are obese for many years are likely to suffer brain cell loss linked to dementia.

A notion exists that sexual activity can trigger a heart attack. The belief that physical exertion in the bedroom puts the heart into strain prompts many heart patients to reduce such activities, if not abstain totally. A Harvard study in 1996 suggested that the chance of sex causing a heart attack was remote – two in a million – even in subjects who had already had at least one attack! The study did not look at the intensity of the activity or whether the activity was extra marital. A similar Swedish study in 2001 found that the risk was small but highest among patients who were sedentary.

On the subject of heart related diseases, an interesting news item caught my eyes – a scanner is entering the market. It will try to remove the concept of angiograms to identify blockages of the heart. With these scanners, it takes seconds to diagnose the problem and the pictures are clear, they show every clogged artery in detail. These scanners are expected to cost around $700 as compared to $4,000 for an angiogram. Most people coming to an emergency room complaining of chest pain may have a pulled muscle and not a heart attack – still, they are admitted to the hospital and kept under observation for at least 24 hours – which may not be necessary at all. Use of scanners will do away with such wastages.


6 Comments:

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