A Letter from a Doctor's Desk !
ஒரு மருத்துவரானவர் நோயாளிக்கு நோய் வரும் முன் காக்க சில விடயங்களை பகிர்ந்து கொள்வதால் பல நேரம் உயிர்காக்கும் ஆலோசனைகள் பயன்பட்டு இருக்கு. உங்களுக்காக எனக்கு வந்த கடிதத்தை இங்கே பகிர்ந்து கொள்கிறேன்.
Writing to you all after a long break! This email might remind most of you of my previous emails a few years ago.A few of you are new to my email list, so this might be 1st time you are getting one of a kind ( lengthy health discussion emails, my last one was may be 3 or so years ago)! For few these facts might just be something you already know. I apologise for this long gap!
A few years ago I had written about some basic facts to be aware of in regards to heart attack, stroke, screening tests etc. Today, an incident made me worried about all those I care about, especially those in India who (I hope you all agree) have less awareness or access to medical care!
1st of all, I want you to be aware that just because you are still in your 30's or 40's does not mean you will not have any major health problems, especially in this modern era, we are seeing heart attacks even in the 30's quite commonly.May be you have just a single risk factor ( could be either a +ve family history or smoking or high cholesterol from bad genes or high blood pressure or diabetes which can be seen even in the 30's).
Never ignore anything that is unusual for you and your body.
Eg's ( only a few i can think of):
A new chest discomfort ( mostly people do not get typical chest PAIN in heart attack) which feels like indigestion and therefore very deceiving could mean that a major blood vessel is blocking up in your heart and might need urgent medical attention;
New onset headache mostly one sided,
Blood in urine or stool or a swelling anywhere in the body,
Stroke symptoms as discussed in detail below
A new swelling any place including skin,
Discolored irregular patch on the skin.
Cancer is mostly painless unless in the last stages and therefore more easily ignored till late.
Just bring to to some body's attention, most of you might have a doctor you can call and consult or simply walk in. If you dont have anyone, its time to find someone who can be accessible to you.
Always try to discuss about your health with others in your family so they are aware of anything new with you. I will quote a few examples of events in my own surrounding.
37 year old male, excessively sleepy at work during day or night and sometime even driving! This is not a usual thing for anyone sure. We found out that he had profound low thyroid levels which could if progressed even led to thyroid coma!
Second, a woman in her 60's whose daughter is a doctor did not tell her that she often saw a swelling during urination until she stared to bleed. This simply ended up been a prolapse uterus and not cancer! thank god!
Next, A 38 year old male with blood pressure had chest discomfort thinks it is digestive problem and is found dead at home a few mins later, from heart attack!
A 34 year old with new onset headaches is found with bleeding in the brain and is in coma still! I am sure you can add a few more! I personally think mostly it is either ignorance or carelessness with your health! Worse if its both.
Here is US, we have annual health checkups with a doctor which is great. In India, it falls onto each individual who cares about their health to go get themselves checked annually. If even one person in the family takes the responsibility to make sure all of them they care about ( parents children siblings and friends) has had at least one annual with a doctor, and takes time out of their busy schedule to get it done, then, i believe, half the problem is solved. Here in US not only people are more conscious and educated about their health, also medical services are much more easily accessible. This is not true in India. Each one of you must take an effort to take sure you live happily hand healthily. In my simple words, here in developed nations its easy to live than to die, whereas there its easy to die than to live!!
In your annual physical you expect the following
For young adults- it involves blood pressure blood sugar, cholesterol, general physical exam, skin check, pap smear for women etc.
for older adults the same thing + prostrate & breast exam, mammograms once at least 2 years for those older than 40 years, bone study in women older than 60, ekg's & even stress test to check for any possible blockage in your heart, especially those with +ve risks factors that i talked above could be discussed/requested for with your doctor!
Please be aware of symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Talk to older adults at home and children about these. Like i said chest tightness/discomfort/pressure, jaw pain or arm pain esp. left arm, indigestion, sudden sweating and dizziness, falling unconscious transiently are all danger signals for heart attack. 1st thing to do, avoid exertion of any sort, not even walking. Sit down, call for someone. Make sure an EKG gets done and later if you are stable a stress test. Of course call for ambulance if you are worried about ongoing symptoms. Take aspirin 325 mg, keep it handy at home ( go buy it today, god i realized i dont have it at home! But i can call 911). Stroke symptoms, sudden numbness or tingling one arm or leg or one side of the body, difficulty finding words, slurring of speech, falling down due to difficulty with balance or spinning sensation, double vision etc. Take aspirin and sit down call for help! Time is muscle and time is brain! So sooner you are in a health care facility the better for you!!
Last not the least, Please learn how to do CPR, teach them to adults and children at home. Nowadays everything is available on line and youtube! This is the only way sometimes to keep alive till help is on the way!
OK, more later, please feel free to share your feelings. Any questions...talk it out, that's the best way!
Anitha Krishnasamy, MD
Weymouth, MA, USA