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Dr K K Aggarwal

Stress may increase smoking habits

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Stress increases the risk of heart attack by pushing people toward bad habits. A British study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that people with psychological stress had a 50% increased risk of a cardiovascular disease event over the follow–up period.

The reasons were higher smoking rates and low exercise levels of individuals who were stressed.

In the study over a 7-year follow–up period, incidence of cardiovascular events –– heart attacks, stroke, bypass surgery and the like –– was 50% higher among the people with a high level of depression and anxiety when compared to happier people. Smoking and lack of physical activity explained about 63% of the increase, with smoking alone responsible for 41%.

Alcohol intake explained less than 2% of the increase, with high blood pressure assigned 13% of the blame. All such patients should be treated with combined physiological approaches with intensive lifestyle changes to reduce modifiable risk.

Some health tips from HCFI

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Cut down on food or drinks rich in caffeine including coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse.
  2. Eat right, exercise, and get better sleep. Brisk aerobic exercises can help release brain chemicals which can further cut out stress.
  3. Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. It is important to get adequate rest. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine.
  4. Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter meds or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can make anxiety symptoms worse.

How to keep your memory sharp?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Manage your stress, especially pressures of deadlines and petty arguments.
  2. The biggest stress is an ongoing sense of extreme anxiety. This can be managed by deep breathing, meditation, yoga and by mindful approach to living.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep. The most common reason for poor sleep is difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep. Many drugs are used to treat insomnia, which can also impair memory.
  4. If you need a sleeping medicine, it should be used in the lowest dose for the shortest period of time.
  5. Get up at the same time in the morning.
  6. If you smoke, quit.
  7. If you do not drink, do not start.
  8. Alcohol makes it difficult to perform short term memory tasks such as memorizing list. Alcohol induces vitamin B1 deficiency, which can cause dementia.
  9. Protect your brain from injury as repeated minor head trauma can cause brain damage. Wear seat belt when riding in motor vehicle. Wear helmet while driving or riding motorcycle.

Is Caffeine Good For The Health?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Caffeine is the most consumed stimulant in the world,
  2. It is consumed in the form of coffee and tea.
  3. At present there is no scientific data for promoting or discouraging coffee and/or tea consumption in the daily diet.
  4. Short term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance.
  5. Short term adverse effects including headache, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia.
  6. Long term adverse affects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders.
  7. Long–term benefits are dose–dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and gout. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee are also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  8. Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals, although coffee intake is not considered a long–term risk factor for myocardial disease.
  9. Most studies show a modest inverse relationship between coffee consumption and all–cause mortality.
  10. Caffeine withdrawal is a well–documented clinical syndrome with headache being the most common symptom. (Source: Uptodate)

Managing grief by free expressive writing

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The loss of a loved is often painful. The resultant grief makes it hard to eat, sleep and leads to loss of interest in routine life affecting behavior and judgment.

Some can feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world and others may find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety.

It is well known that disclosing deep emotions through writing can boost immune function as well as mood and well–being. Conversely, the stress of holding in strong feelings can increase blood pressure and heart rate and increase muscle tension.

One can write on a piece of paper, in your personal book, on the open website with nick name or keep it in the mind. One doesn’t have to preserve the emotions and can throw away the writings.

In absence of deeply troubling situations, such as suicide or a violent death, which are best explored with the help of an experienced therapist, one can choose writing as a way to express the grief.

  1. Start writing for 15 to 30 minutes a day for 3 to 4 days.
  2. Continue up to a week if it is helping.
  3. Continue writing for 15 to 30 minutes once a week for a month.
  4. Writing has stronger effects when it extends over for more number of days.
  5. Remember writing about grief and loss can trigger strong emotions (one may cry or feel deeply upset)
  6. Many people find journal writing valuable and meaningful and report feeling better afterward.
  7. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure.
  8. Truly let go. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. You’re writing for yourself, not others. (Source Harvard News Letter)

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

Seven Common Causes of Forgetfulness

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Lack of sleep is the most common cause. Too little restful sleep can also lead to mood changes and anxiety, which in turn can contribute to memory impairment.

  • Many drugs can affect memory, which includes tranquilizers, antidepressants, blood pressure drugs and anti–allergic drugs.

  • Low functioning thyroid can affect memory.

  • Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with short–term memory.

  • Stress and anxiety can lead to memory impairment. Both can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memory or retrieval of old memories.

  • Forgetfulness can be a sign of depression or a consequence of it.

  • If you are vegetarian, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause memory impairment.

Seven Common Causes of Forgetfulness

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Lack of sleep is the most common cause. Too little restful sleep can also lead to mood changes and anxiety, which in turn can contribute to memory impairment.
  2. Many drugs can affect memory, which includes tranquilizers, antidepressants, blood pressure drugs and anti–allergic drugs.
  3. Low functioning thyroid can affect memory.
  4. Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with short–term memory.
  5. Stress and anxiety can lead to memory impairment. Both can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memory or retrieval of old memories.
  6. Forgetfulness can be a sign of depression or a consequence of it.
  7. If you are vegetarian, vitamin B12 deficiency can loss memory impairment.

What are the Principles of Vidur Niti?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The best description of the causes and treatment of insomnia comes from Vidura Niti a dialogue between Vidura and Dhritarashtra.

In the text, King Dhritarashtra said: “O Vidura, Sanjaya has come back. He has gone away after rebuking me. Tomorrow he will deliver, in the midst of the court, Ajatashatru’s message. I have not been able today to ascertain what the message is of the Kuru hero. Therefore, my body is burning, and that has produced sleeplessness. Tell us what may be good for a person that is sleepless and burning.

“My body is burning, and that has produced sleeplessness” is a typical description of anxiety and related sleeplessness, true even today.

Vidura said: “Sleeplessness overtakes thief, a lustful person, him that has lost all his wealth, him that has failed to achieve success, and him also that is weak and has been attacked by a strong person”.

He therefore described five basic reasons for insomnia and even in today’s science they are true. No new cause has been added in this list of stress induced insomnia.

The situations are:

  1. A thief
  2. A lustful person
  3. A person who has lost all his wealth
  4. A person who has failed to achieve success
  5. A person who is weak and has been attacked by a strong person.

Ayurveda describes sleep as an aggravation of Vata and Pitta dosha. The number one cause of the same is mental tension; suppressed feelings and acute bitterness. The above five situations again hold true to this effect.

Apart in Allopathy other causes of insomnia mentioned are constipation; dyspepsia; excessive intake of tea, coffee and alcohol and environment Factors-excessive cold, heat or change of environment. They are in most of the situations the effect and not the cause of insomnia.

The treatment of insomnia involves either suppressing the emotions with drugs or root level eradication of stress with proper counseling. Bhagavad Gita, Chanakya Niti and Vidur Niti are high level counseling books of ancient era and provide texts and sutras even true today.

Bhagavad Gita was a counseling when Arjuna went in an acute anxiety state and was not being able to decide whether or not he should fight with his near ones. He said: my legs are trembling, my bows are leaving me, by body is shaking, what should I do”. The principles of Gita today are incorporated as the principles of any counseling.

Chanakya gave principles of how to manage conflicts and win over others. One of his main teachings was that money earned by unfair means can only last for eight years.

Another answer to insomnia is learning meditation as described in Patanjali Yoga Sutra or Yoga Vashistha. It is based on the principle of concentrating on the present, which shifts the inner environment from sympathetic to para sympathetic mode. 20 minutes of meditation morning and evening provides the same biochemical benefit as gathered from 7 hours of deep sleep.

Here are some other sutras of Vidura Niti:

  1. Do not inhabit a country where you are not respected, cannot earn your livelihood, have no friends, or cannot acquire knowledge. (1.8)
  2. Do not reveal what you have thought upon doing, but by wise counsel keep it secret, being determined to carry it into execution. (2.7)
  3. Consider again and again the following: the right time, the right friends, the right place, the right means of income, the right ways of spending, and from whom you derive your power. (4.18)
  4. A wise man should not reveal his loss of wealth, the vexation of his mind, the misconduct of his own wife, base words spoken by others, and disgrace that has befallen him. (7.1)

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

Is caffeine good for health?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Caffeine is the most consumed stimulant globally. It is consumed in the form of coffee and tea. At present there is no scientific data for promoting or discouraging coffee and or tea consumption in the daily diet. Short term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance. Short term adverse effects including headache anxiety tremors and insomnia. Long term adverse effects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders. Long term benefits are dose dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson disease Alzheimer disease alcoholic cirrhosis and gout. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee are also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals although coffee intake is not considered a long term risk factor for myocardial disease. Most studies show a modest inverse relationship between coffee consumption and all cause mortality. Caffeine withdrawal is a well documented clinical syndrome with headache being the most common symptom. Source Uptodate

How to keep your memory sharp?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Wellness | Tagged With: , , , , , , , , , | | Comments Off on How to keep your memory sharp?

  • Manage your stress, especially deadline pressure and petty arguments.
  • The biggest stress is an ongoing sense of extreme anxiety. This can be managed by deep breathing, meditation, yoga and by mindful approach to living.
  • Get a goodnight’s sleep. The most common reason for poor sleep is difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep. Many drugs used to treat insomnia can also impair memory.
  • If you need a sleeping medicine, it should be used in the lowest dose and for the shortest period of time.
  • Get up at the same time in the morning.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • If you do not drink, do not start.
  • Alcohol makes it difficult to perform short term memory tasks such as memorizing list. It also induces vitamin B1 deficiency, which can cause dementia.
  • Protect your brain from injury as repeated minor head trauma can cause brain damage.
  • Wear seat belt when riding in motor vehicle.
  • Wear helmet while driving or riding motorcycle.

Is caffeine good for health?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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• Caffeine, as tea or coffee, is the most consumed stimulant in the world, • There is insufficient data to either encourage or discourage consumption of coffee and/or tea in the daily diet. • Short-term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance. While short-term adverse effects including headache, anxiety, tremors and insomnia. • Long-term adverse effects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders. • Long–term benefits are dose–dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, alcoholic cirrhosis and gout. Coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. • Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in high risk persons, although coffee intake is not considered a long–term risk factor for myocardial disease. • A modest inverse relationship has been observed between consumption of coffee and all–cause mortality. • Caffeine withdrawal is a well–documented clinical syndrome; the most common symptom is headache. (Source: Uptodate

Is caffeine good for the health?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Wellness | Tagged With: , , , , , , , , | | Comments Off on Is caffeine good for the health?

• Caffeine is the most consumed stimulant in the world. • It is consumed in the form of coffee and tea. • At present there is no scientific data for promoting or discouraging coffee and/or tea consumption in the daily diet. • Short–term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance. • Short–term adverse effects including headache, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia. • Long–term adverse effects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders. • Long-term benefits are dose–dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and gout. Coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. • Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals, although coffee intake is not considered a long–term risk factor for myocardial disease. • Most studies show a modest inverse relationship between coffee consumption and all–cause mortality. • Caffeine withdrawal is a well–documented clinical syndrome with headache being the most common symptom. (Source: Uptodate)

Managing grief by free expressive writing

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , , , , , , | | Comments Off on Managing grief by free expressive writing

The loss of a loved is often painful. The resultant grief makes it hard to eat, sleep and leads to loss of interest in routine life affecting behavior and judgment. Some can feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world and others may find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety. It is well known that disclosing deep emotions through writing can boost immune function as well as mood and well–being. Conversely, the stress of holding in strong feelings can increase blood pressure and heart rate and increase muscle tension. One can write on a piece of paper, in your personal book, on the open website with nick name or keep it in the mind. These emotions need not be preserved and the writings can be throw away. In absence of deeply troubling situations, such as suicide or a violent death, which are best explored with the help of an experienced therapist, one can choose writing as a way to express the grief. 1. Start writing for 15 to 30 minutes a day for 3 to 4 days. 2. Continue up to a week if it is helping. 3. Continue writing for 15 to 30 minutes once a week for a month. 4. Writing has stronger effects when it extends over for more number of days. 5. Remember writing about grief and loss can trigger strong emotions (one may cry or feel deeply upset) 6. Many people find journal writing valuable and meaningful and report feeling better afterward. 7. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure. 8. Truly let go. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. You’re writing for yourself, not others

Low cholesterol linked to anxiety, depression, suicide, hemorrhagic stroke and cancers

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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People with very low cholesterol levels are at increased risk of developing stomach cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer.

The study involved 2,600 residents of Hisayama, Japan, who were followed for 14 years. Gastric cancers developed in 97 subjects. After accounting for age and gender, stomach cancer rates rose significantly with descending cholesterol level. For example, among subjects with the highest cholesterol levels, the gastric cancer rate was the equivalent of 2.1 cases per 1000 persons per year; among those with the lowest cholesterol, the rate was 3.9 per 1000 persons per year.

Patients with low serum cholesterol should consider periodic gastrointestinal examination for the prevention of stomach cancer.

Low cholesterol has been earlier linked to depression, anxiety and suicide in both men and women. Another earlier report has also shown that people with cholesterol level below 180 had twice the risk of brain hemorrhage as compared to those with cholesterol levels of 230.

Cancer survival rates can increase the anxiety

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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One of the first questions many people ask when first diagnosed with cancer is their prognosis. They want to know whether their cancer is relatively easy or more difficult to cure. The doctor cannot predict the future, but often he/she gives the estimates based on the experiences of other people with the same cancer. Survival statistics can be confusing and frightening. Survival rates cannot tell about the situation specifically. The statistics may be impersonal and not very helpful.

Cancer survival rates or survival statistics indicate the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time. Cancer statistics often use a five–year survival rate. For instance, the five–year survival rate for prostate cancer is 99 percent. That means that of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer, 99 of every 100 lived for five years after diagnosis. Conversely, one out of every 100 will die of prostate cancer within five years. Cancer survival rates are based on research that comes from information gathered on hundreds or thousands of people with cancer. An overall survival rate includes people of all ages and health conditions diagnosed with the cancer, including those diagnosed very early and those diagnosed very late. Only the treating doctor may be able to give more specific statistics based on the stage of cancer. For instance, 49 percent, or about half, of people diagnosed with early–stage lung cancer live for at least five years after diagnosis. The five–year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body is 2 percent. Overall and relative survival rates don’t specify whether cancer survivors are still undergoing treatment at five years or if they’ve become cancer free (achieved remission). The five year survival rates for all men is 47.3–66%% and for all women is 55.8–63%

Other terms

Disease–free survival rate: This is the number of people with cancer who achieve remission. That means they no longer have signs of cancer in their bodies.
Progression–free survival rate: This is the number of people who still have cancer, but their disease isn’t progressing. This includes people who may have had some success with treatment, but their cancer hasn’t disappeared completely.