Dr Anvay Mulay is the Director of CardioThoracic Surgery & Heart Transplants at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. On the occasion of World Heart Day, Dr Mulay discusses the reasons that lead to CVDs like pollution and stressful work environments and the necessary steps that employers can take for their employees to stay fit. By Tanuvi Joe
Do you feel pollution and work stress are at the top of the list ? How can these factors be addressed?
Stress remains at the top of list for Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD), as it indirectly leads to high blood pressure, high cholesterol; to counter this stress, people take up alcohol and smoking etc. One has to understand that these measures give short term relief, but long term, they harm us a lot more. Pollution, especially air pollution, aggravates already existing heart problem or Atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty deposits in inner lining of arteries). Pollutants can cause plaque rupture, leading to instant heart attack; they also cause constant inflammation in heart and lung tissues.
Can cardiac healthcare programmes conducted in offices spread awareness and de stress employees?
Cardiac healthcare programmes should focus more on the preventive aspect of healthcare. Sensitisation of even the lowest rung of employees, about heart diseases and its risks, should be on the top priority; this stands especially true since everybody thinks that this would not happen to them, till it actually happens. Focusing on creating a stress-free environment by providing flexi hours, a well-structured growth path; looking at holistic development of employees rather than just their fiscal benefits, should be of umost importance for the employer. Individuals too should learn to balance their life in true sense of term. Go back to ‘simple living and high thinking’.
What mesaures should be taken up to detect CVDs at an early stage?
Regular health check-ups should be done for everyone above 40 yrs of age. Emphasis should be on family history, presence of diabetes, blood pressure measurements, and use of tobacco. Managers/ employers should constantly work on finding out stress related symptoms like anxiety, anger or depression amongst their teams/ employees, and should intervene if something is amiss. Sometimes just patience and listening, solves lot of problems.
Can India take a cue from the cardiac healthcare models in developing countries ?
Developed countries have their share of problems. Fortunately, in India we have a big buffer of stress called ‘families’. We gave the world the benefits of natural healing, Yoga, etc., but the problem is that we are slowly drifting and looking at the West for everything. 70 per cent of our population is young, and we are a growing country; we just cannot imbibe what the West does but having family health schemes in lines of the National Health Trust in United Kingdom, will take care of health-related worries amongst majority of individuals. A cue we can take from these countries is that they are constantly looking for overall development of their employees.
What initiatives is/can the government take up with respect to making cardiac treatment more advanced and accessible for the masses?
Government is doing a good job with the limited resources they have; bringing down the cost of stents, bypass surgeries, to name a few. Newly introduced Ayushman Bharat scheme is a very good initiative to take advanced healthcare to the masses; however, focus should be on ‘Preventive Cardiology. Our government should ensure cleaner environment, equal opportunities, and emphasise on our strength of the Vedic and healthy lifestyle.