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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

Prayer for Inner Happiness

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Stress is defined as the physical and mental reaction to the interpretation of a known situation. In the absence of a known situation, there cannot be stress. One cannot be stressful for a person who has just died in New York in an accident unless he or she is a known person.

There has to be a right, conscience-based interpretation of the situation as the same situation can bring happiness to one and stress to the other.

The most important consequence of stress, physical or mental, therefore, depends on the right interpretation of the situation.

The interpretation or judgment in the body is governed by chemical reactions and is controlled by the balance of autonomic balance system, which in turn is governed by the interaction of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

During the phase of acute stress, when the sympathetic system is predominant, the heart rate and blood pressure increase and a person cannot take correct and decisive decision.

He/she is likely to make mistakes, which can often be detrimental to living. Sympathetic mode is basically the mode of flight or fight reactions of the body.

Right conscience-based decisions can only be taken in a state of relaxed mind when the intention is inserted in the field of consciousness. The relaxed state of the body is the parasympathetic mode, which is healing and is evident by reduction in heart rate, blood pressure and increase in the skin resistance. Most conscience-based decisions will be based on truthfulness, will be necessary and will bring happiness to both the persons and the surroundings.

The yogic lifestyle by which a person learns the dos and don’ts of living, does regular practice of correct postures, daily pranayama and practices regular withdrawal from the outer atmosphere, helps in preparing a state of physical and mental body which is more receptive for conscience-based decisions.

Prayers have no value when the mind is not at rest. All of us have participated in hundreds of mourning prayers with two minutes of silence. This prayer has no value if the two minutes of silence is not observed. If prayer is done without it, the mind will remain restless and we will keep on thinking these two minutes are not over yet.

The process of silence does shift our awareness towards parasympathetic state and temporarily we get to be in contact with the memories of the departed soul and we pay homage to him or her. Today, a large number of organizations are teaching the process of meditation but the same cannot be taught unless a person practices procedures by which the mind gets relaxed.

The eight limbs of Patanjali focus in detail on premeditation preparations and once that is learned, one can go to the other three limbs which are Dharna, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Yoga asanas are different from exercises. They stimulate and stretch all or one of the seven charkas, autonomic plexuses, and ganglion and ductless endocrine glands. Also during a yogasana, the mind is in the exercise and not wandering here and there.

Yogic exercises at rest are termed yoga asanas and the same yogic meditative exercises with activity are called traditional Indian dances. Western exercises and dances do not follow the principles of yoga. Many international studies have shown that over one-third of the people during their lifetime pray either for their own illness or for somebody else.

All hospitals should have spirituals areas. The prayer and meditation rooms in a hospital setting invariably will provide an arena which will improve patient-doctor relationship and will reduce the rising disputes amongst them in the country.

Nine modifiable risk factors for heart attack

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The majority of known risk factors for heart attack are modifiable by specific preventive measures.

The nine potentially modifiable factors include smoking, dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, regular alcohol consumption, daily consumption of fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity. These account for over 90 percent of the population attributable risk of a first heart attack.

In addition, aspirin is recommended for primary prevention of heart disease for men and women whose 10-year risk of a first heart attack event is 6 percent or greater.

Smoking cessation reduces the risk of both heart attack and stroke. One year after quitting, the risk of heart attack and death from heart disease is reduced by one-half, and after several years begins to approach that of nonsmokers.

A number of observational studies have shown a strong inverse relationship between leisure time activity and decreased risks of CVD. Walking 80 minutes in a day and whenever possible with a speed of 80 steps per minute are the current recommendations.

Significance of Lighting a Lamp in Any Worship

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Deepajyothi parabrahma, Deepa Jyotir Janaardanah, Deepo harati paapaani, Sandhyaa deepa namostute

“I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved in life.”

Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. Knowledge can remove ignorance just as light removes darkness. The purpose of any ritual is to remove internal darkness and attain some knowledge.

Vedic literature recommends lighting a lamp daily as a part of puja ritual. Some do it once at dawn, others twice a day – at dawn and dusk ; while some let the lamp light continuously (akhanda deepa). No auspicious functions can commence without lighting of the lamp and the same is to be maintained right through the occasion.

Knowledge stands for the lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. By lighting the lamp, we bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth. Knowledge about the self is the greatest wealth. It goes around achieving inner happiness by burning the negativity of mind full of lust and ego.

The traditional oil lamp defines this spiritual significance. The oil or ghee symbolizes our vasanas (lust) and negative tendencies (the wick & the ego). When they are lit by spiritual knowledge, vasanas slowly exhaust and the ego too perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards signifying that only that knowledge should be acquired that takes us towards higher ideals.

Tips to prevent pneumonia

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  • Get vaccinated with the flu and pneumococcal vaccines
  • Practice respiratory and cough hygiene to protect yourself against respiratory infections that may lead to pneumonia.
  • Respiratory hygiene: Keep a distance of minimum 3-6 ft, from a person who is coughing, sneezing or singing to prevent cross infection, specifically, from flu. Most respiratory particles are more than 5 microns in size (except tuberculosis droplet nuclei) and do not travel a distance of more than 3 ft.
  • Cough hygiene: Cough on your sleeves or tissue paper (and discard it immediately) and not in hands and handkerchief. Wash hands with soap and water after coughing or sneezing or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Dont smoke as it can damage the natural defence of the lungs against respiratory infections.
  • Keep the immune system strong by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.

The spiritual meaning of the word ‘Artha’

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Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are the four fundamental principles of our very existence which means earning righteously with a desire to fulfil the inner happiness.

Righteous earning is called ‘Artha’ and mistakenly it has been linked to materialistic money. In mythology, Artha is synonymous with Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali where Lakshmi represents righteously earned materialistic wealth, Saraswati represents wealth of knowledge and Kali represents wealth of wisdom to fight the bad in you and in the society.

In any country, it is the wealth of knowledge, which is more important. India was ruled initially by warriors (Kali), later by money (Lakshmi) and in future will be ruled by knowledge (Saraswati).

It is the human resources, which today decide the growth of a company and the amount of money invested. If you have good human resources, your company is going to succeed.

Follow a healthy diet for a healthy heart

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  • Your diet should be low in sodium and no person should consume more than 6 gm of sodium chloride in a day.
  • Consumption of trans fats, which is found in hydrogenated oils or vanaspati ghee, should be minimal as they are bad for the heart and reduce the HDL cholesterol and increase the LDL cholesterol.
  • Avoid eating out as much as possible since the food in most restaurants and hotels has high amounts of trans fats and is generally bad for the heart
  • Refined carbohydrates like white bread, white flour, white rice and refined sweetened cereals and white sugar should be avoided and replaced with options like whole grain flour, healthy green cereals and oat meal.
  • Any sweet item containing more than 10% sugar should be limited. On an average, the sugar content in soft drinks is 10%, Indian sweets contain 30-50% sugar.

Never hurt the ego of a person

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It is a well-known Vedic fact that if you hurt the ego of a person, he will never forgive you, especially, if you have insulted or implicated him in character assassination, or have cast implications about financial embezzlement or you call a woman as old or a man as impotent in public. For example, if I hurt the ego of a chowkidaar, next time if a patient comes to the hospital gate and asks where Dr. KK Aggarwal is, he only has to whisper, “Which Aggarwal? The one whose cases never survive?”

Also never hurt the ego of a person who is drunk. Under the influence of alcohol, a person loses his capacity to judge persons and situations. If you provoke him, he can be destructive and aggressive.

Do not heat leafy vegetables twice

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Nitrates in foods such as spinach, beet root and lettuce stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels. Ingested nitrate is reduced by oral, commensal bacteria to nitrite, which can further be reduced to nitric oxide.

Vegetables are a major source of dietary nitrate. Green leafy and root vegetables, such as spinach and carrots, provide more than 85% of dietary nitrate. Foods in which nitrate is present are bacon, fermented sausage, hot dogs, bologna, salami, corned beef, ham and other products such as smoked or cured meat, fish and poultry. The conversion of dietary nitrate to nitrite has antimicrobial benefits in the mouth and stomach. Certain epidemiological studies have shown a reduced rate of gastric and intestinal cancer in people with a high vegetable-based nitrate intake.

While nitrate is harmless, it can be converted to nitrite and some portion of nitrite to nitrosamines, some of which are known to be carcinogenic. Heating can potentially increase the conversion rate. The longer the heat treatment, the more nitrosamines will be formed. Hence, it is recommended not to heat leafy vegetables twice.

Adding lemon juice to vegetables can reduce the formation of nitrosamines. It contains vitamin C, which also reacts with nitrite, thereby preventing the nitrosamine formation.

Spiritual prescriptions learnt from patients

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As doctors, we are witnesses to human suffering. When we were young in medical college, we were quite disturbed seeing the sufferings of the people. But, in our practice, we have learnt many spiritual prescriptions from our patients. These have not only helped us to heal our patients but also changed our perception to health and sickness.

I recall, Swami Bodhanand, a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, was once hospitalized under our care. When I asked him to give me a spiritual message, he said only two words “Detached Attachment”. He said, “As a doctor you should behave like a lotus leaf. It is wet as long as there is a drop of water on it, but once the drop is out, the leaf is as dry as if the water was never there.” The message was that “we should be attached to our patients as long as they are with us. The day they die, we should be completely detached from them or else we will not be able to treat other patients”.

I saw another spiritual guru through our Chief Anesthetist. The fee he paid me was a spiritual message “Suno Samjho Jano Karo – Hear Understand Wisdom and Do”. He said that hearing is different from listening, listening is different from wisdom and wisdom is different from doing. Unless you hear, understand what you have heard and implement, the learning has no value.

One of my Buddhist patients gave me a spiritual learning, which has helped me a lot in my routine clinical practice. He taught me the basic Buddhist message that there is suffering all over, there is a reason for every suffering and it is possible to maintain sufferings. This message fits into the main message of Hinduism and also the main teaching from Garud Purana.

In Hinduism, we know that the very fact that we are born in this life means that in our last life, we could not get liberation, as Hinduism believes that after liberation you are not reborn. Not getting liberated in the last birth means that some sufferings were left in our life. The basic purpose of this birth, therefore, is to face sufferings. When the basic purpose of our birth is to face sufferings, then why suffer from these sufferings. Every time we suffer, we should thank God that he has reduced one more. The period in between two sufferings is called a happy period (Sukh). In fact that period is nothing but a period of rest given by God to us to prepare the body for next suffering. This, as a concept of counseling, helps my patients in managing most of their mental disturbances.

Not telling a patient that he is suffering from terminal cancer sometimes works. One of my patient’s father aged 83 years was found to have extensive cancer of the prostate. Medically, we all gave him three months to live. My patient did not have the courage to tell his father or the family members that he (the father) had extensive cancer. He took me into confidence and played a game with the family. We gathered all the family members and told them that with surgery, his cancer had been cured. A party was organized in the evening to celebrate the cure. The magic happened; he lived almost a symptom-free life for the next 9 years. I have tried this on many of my patients thereafter and it works. The probable explanation was loss of fear of death, a confidence in his doctor and faith in himself.

The way to live up to the age of hundred is to go on working in life. My great grand-father-in-law was 75 years old, when I got married. That year, he gathered all family members from across the world and said that his purpose of life was over and he would like a collective family photograph and like to quit the world. Nothing happened for a year and he did this again next year. The entire family from across the world gathered but he remained alive for another year. This went on for three years. Suddenly, we played a spiritual trick on him and told everyone to convince him that he is going to live for 100 years as he has many more works of the family to be done. Every year, we gave him law students from within the family to be taught (he was a lawyer himself), or gave him the responsibility of finding a boy for some eligible girl in the family. We made him teach and search for suitable bride/bridegrooms for years together and he actually died at the age of 100 years. This is the beauty of positive attitude in life.

Childhood obesity increasing at an alarming rate around the world

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The prevalence of obesity among children is increasing at an alarming rate. Overweight four-year-old children have a doubled risk of high blood pressure by age six, raising the hazard of future heart attack and stroke. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.

Obesity is a multifactorial disorder; unhealthy diet – eating foods high in fats, sugar and salt (junk food, processed food) and a sedentary lifestyle (TV, internet, computer and mobile games have taken precedence over outdoor sports) contribute significantly to this escalating epidemic. Women should lose those extra pounds before conceiving, avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy, and quit smoking, as these are known risk factors for childhood obesity.

Most obese children grow up to be obese adults. Overweight and obese children are at risk of other lifestyle disorders such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome later in life. They are more prone to joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Healthy habits in childhood lay a foundation for a healthier adulthood. Here are some tips that parents can follow at home to tackle obesity and unhealthy habits in children:

  • Encourage healthy eating habits right at the onset.
  • Try making their favorite dishes healthier. Few changes can make even snacks healthier.
  • Avoid tempting children with calorie-rich food. It is okay to treat them but in moderation and by limiting high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks.
  • Make kids understand the importance of being physically active.
  • Lead by example. Indulge in at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day.
  • Reduce sedentary time. While reading is a good option, too much of screen time is not.
  • Replace screen time with the outdoors and fun activities to keep children engaged.

Spirituality – The Key To Health

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To stay healthy, one needs to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid harmful habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can largely affect your health and longevity. Several studies show that patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from several chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery, and more.

Research indicates that there are substantial health benefits from spirituality:

  1. People with religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses, a hormone released in the in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion are linked with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer as compared to those who dont. Regular participation decreases mortality rate by about 12% a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and see greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers get rid of their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease, thus decreasing the bodys stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune system function. Spirituality and faith improve the immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.

Spirituality brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can promote wellness and help with recovery.

Prevention strategy relies on lifestyle

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Stenting may not be the answer every time for treating heart disease with stable coronary artery disease (CAD). A German study has shown that patients with stable CAD who were subjected to an exercise regimen had significantly higher rates of event-free survival compared to those who had undergone percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). In the study, 70% of patients in the exercise program had event-free survival (no stroke, heart attack, or death), compared with 50% of stented patients after a four year period. Exercise is an important part of any type of prevention, and it should be introduced for anyone with stable coronary heart disease.

The study on stenting versus exercise was a continuation of a pilot study first reported in 2004 in the journal Circulation. That study included 101 male patients and noted that after one year, 88% of patients who exercised had an event-free survival compared to 70% of stented patients. The updated data reflect an additional 100 patients, who performed moderate intensity exercise for two weeks under hospital supervision, followed by use of an exercise bike to continue their regimen at home. Patients with stable angina exercised at 80% of their threshold, and after four weeks of exercising, their angina threshold increased.

The clear message for patients is to get 30 to 60 min of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every day. About 30% of heart disease could be prevented by 2.5 hours of walking per week.

Signs of Spiritual Awakening

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  • More experiences of telepathy.
  • More experiences of reverse telepathy.
  • More spontaneous fulfilment of desires.
  • Increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen. Work done with the least effort.
  • Change in the nature, more smiling, laughter and thankful nature.
  • Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
  • Frequent episodes of appreciation.
  • Tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
  • Ability to enjoy each moment.
  • Living in the present.
  • Loss of worry.
  • A loss of interest in conflict.
  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  • A loss of interest in judging others.
  • A loss of interest in judging self.
  • Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.
  • Quality of converting an adversity into opportunity.
  • Dislike for drugs, smoke and excess of alcohol.
  • Happiness in doing random acts of kindness.
  • Looking for good in every one.

Treatment of acute leg cramps

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Patients with an acute leg cramp should forcefully stretch the affected muscle, as an example by active dorsiflexion of the foot with the knee extended, when the cramp is in the calf.

Some patients may also find relief from passive stretching by getting out of bed and standing with the foot flat on the floor then pressing downward firmly, although active dorsiflexion of the foot may be more effective.

Other measures that may offer relief from the acute cramp include:

  • Walking or leg jiggling followed by leg elevation
  • A warm tub bath or a hot shower with the stream directed at the cramp area, usually for five minutes
  • Ice massage

Why do we not offer onions to God?

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Anything that grows under the ground is not offered to God. According to Vedic science, anything which is grown under the ground is Tamasik in nature and produces sluggishness, heaviness and extreme aggressiveness. Not only onion, all food products grown under the ground are not offered to God and are not supposed to be eaten during spiritual fasts. People who are spiritually-oriented, like monks, rishis, munis, avoid underground food altogether. Some people try to convert Tamasik food into Satvik food by slow heating them or by sprouting them or by soaking them in water. This is one reason why boiled potato is eaten during Vrat.