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Dr K K Aggarwal

Lifestyle counseling can reduce heart disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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An intensive effort to change the lifestyle in people at high risk of heart disease can help them reduce such risk factors as high blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking.

A trial, called the Euroaction study, published in The Lancet, compared the results of added counseling on lifestyle issues such as diet, physical activity and smoking to the usual care. It included more than 3,000 people with coronary heart disease and 2,300 who were at high risk of developing the disease. Half of the group were counseled by a team of nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists and the treating doctors. The counseling was given to families as well as individuals.

Two groups of patients were studied. One group included patients who already had developed coronary heart disease. The second group included those who were asymptomatic but at high risk because of a combination of risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease over 10 years.

Fifty five percent of those getting the counseling reduced their intake of saturated fat vs. 40 percent of those not getting the advice. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables was seen in 72 percent of the counseled group, and 17 percent of them also increased their consumption of heart-friendly oily fish, compared to 35 percent and 8 percent in the other group. Similar results were seen for blood pressure, cholesterol and physical activity, but it proved difficult to have people seen in general practice quit smoking.

Difference between smile, hug and laugh

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Smile is a sign of joy while hug is a sign of love. Laughter, on the other hand, is a sign of inner happiness. None of them are at the level of mind or intellect. All come from within the heart.

They are only the gradations of your expressions of your happiness.

It is said that you are incomplete in your dress if you are not wearing a smile on your face. Hug comes next, and laughter the last.

Laughter is like an internal jogging and has benefits like that of doing meditation.

But be careful, we must know when not to laugh. The most difficult is to laugh at ourselves.

Use painkillers with caution in the elderly

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Painkillers can cause stroke via irregular heart rhythm. Non selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and new generation selective COX-2 inhibitors, commonly used to treat inflammation, are now linked to an increased risk of irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (AF), as per a Danish Research of 32602 patients led by Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

These drugs are already linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. And now through AF, the risk gets intensified for stroke and new risk added of heart failure and death.

In the study, compared with non users, new users (first drug within 60 days of diagnosis) showed 40% increased risk of AF with non-selective NSAIDS and 70% increased risk with COX-2 inhibitors. This means four extra cases of AF per year per 1000 new users of non-selective NSAIDS and seven extra cases of AF per 1000 new users of COX-2 inhibitors.

The risk was highest in the elderly, patients with chronic kidney disease or rheumatoid arthritis, especially on COX-2 inhibitors. NSAIDs should be used very cautiously in older patients with a history of hypertension or heart failure.

Who am I? Know Your Soul Profile

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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“I am not my physical body, as I know, once my body dies, nobody wants to touch it.” (Adi Shankaracharya in the Bhaja Govindam)

“I am not my mind as I know whenever I am in trouble; the mind asks the heart for help” (Deepak Chopra in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success).

“I am my consciousness which is residing in the core of my heart” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 5.8).

“This consciousness is nothing but a web of energized information situated in the void” (Chandogya Upanishad Chapter XII — the Birth of the Gross from the Subtle).

“The consciousness is timeless, has no beginning, no end, weapons cannot cut it, air cannot dry it, water cannot wet it and fire cannot burn it” (Bhagavad Gita 2.23, 24).

Each one of us has a physical profile (as defined by our height, complexion, collar number, waist size, etc.) as well as a mental or ego profile. A few examples of ego profile are my bank balance, car, job designation, locality of residence, size of house, contacts, power, clothes, etc.

Similarly, each one of us also has a soul profile. We should give sometime to ourselves for knowing our soul profile and revisit it at least once in a week.

According to Deepak Chopra, to know the soul profile, one should ask seven questions to his or her consciousness while sitting in a meditating pose or in a state of relaxation. The answer to each question should be either in three words or three phrases.

  1. What is my purpose of life?
  2. What is my contribution going to be for my friends and family?
  3. Three instances in my life when I had my peak experiences.
  4. Names of three people who inspire me the most.
  5. Three qualities which I admire in others the most.
  6. Three of my unique talents.
  7. Three qualities I best express in my relationship.

These 21 answers will characterize your soul profile or will be your passport for every action you perform in your life.

In day-to-day life, one should act from the soul profile and not from the ego profile. Soul profile cannot be manipulated while the ego profile can be.

There are only three ways of improving one’s soul profile and these are:

  1. The choices one makes should be soul profile-oriented and not ego profile-oriented. Whenever there is an opportunity for an action, ask the head for choices, then ask the heart to choose one, and finally order the hand to take action. A soul-based action is the one which is based on the truth, is necessary, and which makes the person and the people around him or her, both happy.
  2. Total clarity of vision of “What do I want” and also “What I don’t want”.
  3. Learn to enter into discontinuity of thought processes using “beej mantra” or doing primordial sound meditation 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.

These can also be equated to the eight limbs of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, where the “choices I make” represents Yama and Niyama, “what do I want” represents Dharma and the “entering into discontinuity” represents Dhyana and Samadhi.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Pain management

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Pain is a common occurrence in day-to-day life and should be managed well.
  • Remember the word ‘ICE’, where ‘I’ means putting ice pack on the injured painful area, ‘C’ stands for compression and ‘E’ stands for elevation.
  • The mantra, therefore, is to use cold compression and elevation for any injury.
  • Alternate hot and cold packs are used for chronic pain.
  • Painkillers should not be taken without a doctor’s advice.
  • If a painkiller has to be taken, it should be one tablet of paracetamol.
  • People who take alcohol should not consume paracetamol without asking their doctor.
  • In patients with kidney disease, even one tablet of painkiller can precipitate kidney failure.
  • In patients with acid peptic disease, one tablet of painkiller can precipitate gastric bleeding.
  • Instead of taking a painkiller, look for alternative methods to relieve pain.
  • Pain relieving ointments are better than oral painkillers.
  • Intravenous and intramuscular injectable painkillers are available in hospital setting.
  • Always tell your doctor that you are taking painkillers.
  • Always contact your doctor if the pain makes you uneasy, is unexplainable or appears for the first time in life.

Vasant Panchami

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Vasant or Basant or Shree Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge (wisdom, learning), music and art and is celebrated every year on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Indian month Magh (January-February) and marks the first day of spring.

On this day the children are taught to write their first words; Brahmins are fed; ancestor worship (pitr-tarpan) is performed; the god of love Kamadeva is worshipped; and most educational institutions organize special prayer for “Ma Saraswati”.

The color yellow (vigor, enthusiasm) also plays an important role in this festival, in that people usually wear yellow garments, Saraswati is worshipped dressed in yellow, and yellow sweets are consumed within the families.

This festival is celebrated to invoke wisdom and consciousness in human beings. Saraswati is the one who gives the essence (sara) of our own self (swa). She is considered as the personification of all knowledge – arts, sciences, crafts and other skills.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Vaccination for elderly

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The best gift to your grandparents is to get them vaccinated if they have not been vaccinated earlier.

  • Annual influenza or flu vaccine is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older.
  • Pneumonia vaccine should be given to all adults aged 65 years and older.
  • Tetanus Toxoid should be given to all irrespective of age after every 10 years.
  • A single dose of herpes zoster vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years and older regardless whether they have had a previous episode of herpes zoster. The vaccination begins at 60 years of age.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine should be given to all if they have not been vaccinated earlier.
  • All diabetics aged 60 years or older should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. This recommendation is based on increased need for associated blood glucose monitoring in long term care facilities.
  • All patients with chronic liver diseases should also be given the Hepatitis B vaccine

You are born with a quota, use it judicially

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Everyone is born with a passport with a defined battery life to live up to 100 years after which one has to go back to renew or recharge the batteries.

If the battery is overused or misused and is depleted early, one may have to go back prematurely for recharging, but this time when one comes back, he or she may come back with a different body which may not be the human one. There are 64 lakh Yonis as described in the Vedic Literature.

According to the Vedic description if one dies prematurely there are chances that the rebirth will not be in the same species.

To live up to the time period defined at the time of birth by Dharmaraja one has to follow the principles as described in Yogashastra.

The main principle is the principle of moderation and variety. It says that everything has to be used, if not used will get rusted and if overused will undergo wear and tear.

When using the principles of moderation and variety, it is important to remember that each one of us is born with a fixed quota of everything, a quota of diet, respiration, heart rate and thoughts.

According to swara yoga, one is born with predefined number of respirations to be taken during life. If one consumes them early he will depart for refueling early from the life. To reduce respiratory rate is therefore the basis of postponing aging and prolonging life. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system by learning and practicing pranayama, which is slow and deep breathing, does the same.

One breathes 15 times a minute or 21600 breaths in a day, or 7884000 (78.84 lakh) a year or 788400000 (78.84 crores) during life (assuming it to be 100 years). Some yoga books say that a person is born with 33 crore breaths, the same if taken at the rate or 15 per minute would last for 42 years.

In fact Pranayama originated on the concept that the breaths of each one of us are numbered, that our life-span is dependent on how many times we shall breathe in a given life, and that, as a consequence of this fact, we must reduce the number of breaths so as to live longer.

In Gorakshapaddhati (I.93), it is written that “Due to fear of death even Brahma, the Lord of creation, keeps on practicing pranayama, and so do many yogis and munis. It is recommended that a student of yoga must always control his breath.”

Hathayoga-pradipika (II.39) also writes: `All the Gods including Lord Brahma became devoted to the practice of pranayama because they were afraid of death. We the mortals should follow the same path and control the breath.”

Similarly one is born with a quota of heartbeats with an average of 70 per minute. Many studies have shown that people who have a higher resting heart rate have more chances of sudden death. The aim therefore is to keep their heart rate slow. This can be achieved either by regular exercise, meditation, AUM Pranayama, or by meditation. In people who run marathons or participate in other athletic activities, the temporary increase in the heart rate during exercise is compensated by the body by adapting the cardiovascular system in such a way that the basal heart rate reduces. The marathon runners may have a heart rate of only 50 per minute.

The less one eats the more he lives is an Yogic saying, It is said that people who eat once a day are Yogis, twice a day are Bhogis and thrice a day are Rogis. There are enough studies now, which say that 25% reduction in the calories content can increase the life span. Many studies in rodents have also shown the same effect.

The moderation in exercise is to walk 10000 steps a day. No exercise will end up with obesity and over use with osteoarthritis.

Stress is the excess of thoughts in the mind. Controlling the mind forms the basis of meditation. Samadhi is the state of no thoughts. Practicing meditation 20 minutes twice daily helps to restrain the mind with resultant state of Turiya where the mind has controlled limited positive thoughts.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Restricting salt in diet can lower heart disease risk

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Restricting salt in the diet can lower the risk of developing heart disease by 25% and the risk of dying from heart disease by 20%.

Dietary intake of sodium among Indians is excessively high. A Harvard Medical School study published in the British Medical Journal says that among hypertensive individuals, lowering sodium is quite well established to lower blood pressure, but now it has been shown that reducing salt also has an effect on cardiovascular disease.

When people with pre hypertension (blood pressure more than 120/80 and lower than 140/90), reduced their salt intake by about 25 to 35%, they were 25% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease 10 to 15 years after the trial ended. There was also a 20 percent lower death rate from cardiovascular disease among those who cut their salt consumption.

Salt restriction is best achieved by avoiding salted, salt cured and salt smoked foods such as lunch meat, hot dogs, ham, olives, pickles and regular salted canned foods, and other prepared foods, which often use more salt than homemade equivalents. Foods we would never think of as salty, such as breakfast cereals, cookies, and even some soft drinks, often contain copious additions of sodium.

Science behind kalpvas

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The month of Magh is observed as Kalpvas where, for one month, people from all over gather, worship the sun (Vitamin D) , eat sesame (high in calcium) and do tulsi pooja (high fertility and high in calcium). The significance behind this is to gather one year’s vitamin D quota. For getting vitamin D we need to expose 40% of the body for atleast 40 minutes at a stretch for forty days in a year (formula of forty).

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Plate Your Food Now

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A ‘Food Plate’ symbol has replaced the traditionally recommended ‘Food Pyramid’ of the USDA. These guidelines break down a healthy diet into 4 main quadrants on a plate: red for fruits, green for vegetables, orange for grains and purple for protein. A small blue circle attached to the plate signifies dairy products.

Fruits and vegetables occupy half of the plate space, with the vegetable portion being a little bigger than the fruit section. Eating more fruits and vegetables means consumption of fewer calories on the whole, which helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Fruits and vegetables are also a rich source of fiber along with vitamins and minerals.

The other half is divided between grains and proteins. Grains, with emphasis on whole grains make up one quarter of the plate. Protein is a smaller quarter of the plate. The recommendation is to aim to eat different kinds of protein in every meal.

In a major shift from the food pyramid, the Plate does not mention the number of servings for any food group or portion size. Nor does it mention fats and oils.

Remember the following tips for a healthy meal:

  • Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid oversized portions, which can cause weight gain.
  • At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
  • Reduce intake of foods high in solid fats and/or added sugar.
  • Use fat–free or low fat milk and/or dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
  • Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.

How to Finish Your Pending Work?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • This involves principles of time management and some Vedic principles.
  • The first thing to do is to make a checklist of all the pending work by writing it down and re–categorizing them depending upon the urgency and importance.
  • Pending work can be classified under following four sections:

o Urgent and important: Should be done immediately.

o Important but not urgent: Should be scheduled as per the time available

o Not important and not urgent: Learn to say no and dump it

o Urgent but not important: This work should be delegated to others.

  • Urgency of the work is decided by the deadlines available.
  • The importance of the work is decided by directing the result of the work to the mind, body or the soul. One should see whether the result of the work gives pleasure to the body, mind or the soul. The one which is giving pleasure to the soul will be free of fear or guilt.
  • When choosing between simple or difficult, choose the difficult jobs first so that you do not carry them back home in the mind. In terms of importance, difficult files are more important than simple files.
  • When choosing right versus convenient action, give priority to the right action and not the convenient action.
  • Delegation of work and team work is very important.
  • When deadlines are available, it is always better not to keep the work just near the deadlines.
  • Anticipate delay and keep time for unforeseen movements.
  • Work is work and not something personal.
  • Always remember the spiritual principle that you get what you deserve and not what you desire. So never get attached to the results of your actions.
  • Yoga, pranayama, afternoon naps and meditation help to prioritize your work.
  • Follow the principles of creativity and learn to give breaks in between jobs so that the mind is relaxed and can take soul boosting decisions.
  • Remember, Yudhishthir never kept anything pending for tomorrow. In this way you can have a fearless, undisturbed sleep.
  • Organizing your pending list always helps.
  • Do not waste time on learning material on which you are already an expert.
  • Take advantage of down time. If you find free time in your routine, then convert it into a creative time so that you can plan strategies or do something new.
  • Always get up at the same time and never disturb your sleep time.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

A mix of exercise protocol is better

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A combination of weight training and aerobic exercise is the best prescription for overweight patients at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Only aerobic exercise is also good as it reduces weight and inches off the waistline. Jut weight lifting alone has very little benefit.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, people in the weight-training group gained about 1.5 pounds and those in the aerobic group lost an average of 3 pounds and half an inch from their waists. Those who did both weight and aerobic training dropped about 4 pounds and 1 waistline inch. This group also had lower diastolic blood pressure as well as a decline in metabolic syndrome score. Both the aerobic-only group and the combined-exercise group also lowered their levels of bad triglycerides.

Types of Memory

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The easiest way to remember types of memory is by understanding the concept of Suno, Samjho, Jano and Karo (hearing, understanding, knowledge and wisdom). Hearing is the shortest lasting memory. We hear and we forget is the rule.

Once we listen and understand, the memory is longer lasting but the same memory becomes ever lasting if we not only hear, understand and know but also incorporate the knowledge in our practice.

These principles have been used by marketing people in brand recall. I know many pharmaceuticals play a game and ask 100 doctors to enter into a competition in which they have to write the company’s brand a number of times in one minute and the one who writes that particular brand the maximum number of times is given a prize. By practicing the brand name repeatedly you create a permanent impact of their brand in the soul and it is unlikely that you will forget the brand and its recall value will increase every time you think about the molecule.

The same principle has been used by devotees of Rama and Shiva where they make people write the name of Rama repeatedly every day and the devotees of Shiva make people write Om Namaha Shivae on a piece of paper for years together. By doing so, you inculcate the teachings of Lord Rama and Shiva. Unfortunately, devotees of Lord Krishna have not been able to make a brand out of Lord Krishna.

Many spiritual Gurus give a Mantra which is also based on the same principle. A Mantra is nothing but a positive affirmation which you have to follow every minute of your life throughout your life. Once you start doing it, a time will come when it will become a part of your soul consciousness and you will start living and behaving in a way as of your positive affirmation. For example, Brahma Kumaris always say to you, in a manner of positive aspiration, that “I am a peaceful soul”. After some time you will start behaving like a peaceful soul and you will lose agitation, anger and negative affirmations of life.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Tips to avoid Smartphone addiction in children

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Interact with them: Instead of giving them a phone to keep them busy, spend some time interacting with them and talking to them. This will eliminate the need for a device.
  • Put computers or TVs in shared spaces: This way it will be easier to keep track of their usage and limit screen time.
  • Opt for a tech-free time: Ensure devoting few hours in a day to zero screen time for the entire household.
  • Watch your habits: If, as parents, you devote a lot of time to mobiles and computers, children are naturally inclined to follow suit. Be a positive role model for them.
  • Eat together: Meal times should be free from screens and a time for the family to sit together and eat. Make this a practice.
  • Indulge in physical activity: Ensure that the children spend sufficient time in outdoor activities. This will make them less prone to using Smartphone.