AT THE GOA LEGISLATORS DAY CELEBRATION: Cardiologist Dr Manjunath Desai (top right) gave a talk on the importance of understanding the heart; later in the open forum session several senior legislators like Ramakant Khalap offered suggestions which the forum could implement for the welfare of its members (top left)

By Our Special Correspondent 

IT WAS Goa Legislators’ Day on January 9, 2019, and perhaps not many know that there is a Goa Legislators Forum to look after the welfare of MLAs, MPs, Ex-MLAs and ex-MPs. This year the forum invited celebrated cardiologist Dr Manjunath Desai of GMC’s Centre for Cardiovascular & Thoracic Sciences to speak on the subject of how even politicians who live a stressful life should watch out for their heart!

Most people think it is high blood pressure and diabetes which is largely responsible for heart problems, said Dr Desai, but the truth is that even stress causes problems, “Sometime ago we got a patient at the GMC’s CCU who had to be scheduled for an angiography, his wife was with him and she was much younger but the day we had scheduled the angiography at 9.30am or so for her husband…it was the wife who was under so much stress who got a heart attack! And we had to take care of her before taking care of her husband!” Stress was the only factor in this case, Dr Manjunath emphasized.

It is one of the grim facts of life that many of us ignore and all of us should be aware “that stress does impact heart problems too although we know that nobody can live a zero stress free life.”

Other than the stress factor most of us in society in Goa are pretty sensitized about how of how poor diet and lack of exercise are related, contributing towards heart problems, “We know about high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking…although we in Goa don’t smoke so much, but alcoholism is rampant. Sniffing or imbibing drugs too can affect heart and lungs…” As a doctor he often hears patients telling him that moderate alcohol is a good thing, “But I am a man of science and as a doctor I would say stop alcohol for it damages muscles and liver….”

Alas, the role of alcohol in heart disease has become controversial with some doctors giving an all clear for moderate drinking of alcohol, while many folk happily trot out the name of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who saw England through World War II who  lived the good life lived into his ripe old 90’s….and Winston Churchill both smoked and enjoyed his liquor!

However, the good doctor who’s earned a reputation for saving many a patient coming in with a heart attack, said we all can’t be Winston Churchill and we should always be educated about symptoms of an impending heart attack, “Sometimes patients come in complaining of intense acidity but we realize there has been a heart attack!” He advised the large group of yesteryear and present legislators present to be conscious of what may present as early symptoms of a heart attack and to routinely go in for a check-up for such things as sugar, cholesterol, their kidneys, doing an ESG is easy nowadays and abroad ESG as well as defibrillating equipment are easily available in public places like bus and railway stations, local health centers. Be aware that diabetes, cholesterol and obesity all contribute towards heart disease and failure of the heart to cope.

By way of dietary changes he urged the inclusion of more green vegetables during meals and to “to avoid pizza, burger, red meat, sugar drinks” and to move about, he said tongue-well-in-cheek, “I wish I could say use the bicycle to travel!”  At the GMC they are seeing younger and younger people coming in with heart disease for want of better lifestyle parameters.

With the help of a slide show Dr Manjunath Desai clued everyone up about heart medicine like a simple baby aspirin, enteric coated ecosprin and the use of statins to checkmate high cholesterol levels. Lately they have been trying to get a STEMI program going whereby a heart attack patient may go to the nearest health center to be guided by a doctor at the GMC on line for prescribing clot-busting medicine until the patient get to a better equipped hospital.

Finally, Dr Manjunath Desai concluded on the note that a bypass does not ensure a cure, it is important that heart patients engage in long-term lifestyle changes and deal with stress by doing yoga, meditation, counseling. He urged the gathering of politicians past and present to work to be healthy, “for if you are healthy you will make good laws, we want you to be healthy!”

Others who spoke on the occasion included Goa Power Minister Nilesh Cabral (who urged legislators not to rush to social media with wrong news, it was the main cause of political stress these days!), Pramod Sawant (Goa Legislators Forum president who appealed for more positivity and a more active GLF), Mohan Amshekar (GLF secretary)who presented the annual report of the Goa Legislators Forum for the year 2017-2018. The open forum session which followed saw feisty members Nirmala Sawant, Radharao Gracias, Ramakant Khalap and other Goa Legislative Assembly members drew attention to a host of problems looming large in Goa — the Mhadei water diversion to Karnataka, use and abuse of land takeovers, the undesirable fallout of casinos on river Mandovi, all kinds of goings on in need of urgent straightening out in the larger interests of Goa.


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