Oct 10, 2019 News
About 30 percent of patients who are rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] with a heart attack are also diabetics. What is however interesting to note is that these patients become aware of their diabetic state when they turn up at hospital for emergency medical care.
This is according to Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Mahendra Carpen who offers his services to both the Caribbean Heart Institute and the GPHC’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Carpen who was being interviewed recently on Kaieteur Radio’s health programme – ‘Your Health Matters’ -said that “30 percent of all of our heart attack patients that come to the GPHC didn’t know that they are diabetics. They are now finding out for the first time that they are diabetic…they are finding out, and we are finding out but at that point it has already caused damage to the heart that’s sufficient for them to have a heart attack.”
For this reason, Dr. Carpen said that deliberate efforts are being made to sensitise people about the importance of early screening so that they are not belatedly diagnosed with conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
“If I had my way I would recommend that you are screened at age 25; check your height, weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and sugar levels and basic general health screening targeted towards the diseases that cause the most deaths and disabilities and that would be cardiovascular and cancer,” Dr. Carpen revealed.
It was disclosed by the Interventional Cardiologist too that across the developing world, “cardiovascular diseases account for a third of all deaths and within that spectrum heart disease accounts for the majority.”
This state of affairs, he said, is not just unique to the Caribbean since it is evident across developing countries and this is owing to a number of factors. According to him, “It is a combination of genetics, lifestyle changes and the availability of appropriate interventions, primary health care preventive strategies and interventional strategies when prevention doesn’t quite get the job done.”
In fact Dr. Carpen made it clear that a person’s health could be allowed to deteriorate if they are strapped financially. “It is well known that the poorer you are, the worst your health care is whether it is for screening or advance interventions,” said Dr. Carpen. He, however, noted that “there are a couple of simple things that we can do to safeguard our health…these essentially involve the diet we eat and our activities and as well as primary health care.”
Speaking to the issue of diet, Dr. Carpen said, “Imagine your plate is a round plate, half of that plate should be vegetables, whether it is steam or raw (salads); the other half you divide into two quarters, one quarter for starch such as rice, provision or roti or whatever you prefer as your starch of choice, and then the other quarter should be your protein – fish, chicken but less of the red meat.”
While diet is an important factor, the Interventional Cardiologist made it clear that “I have always been a believer of moderation rather than drastic diets that is what I would tell my patients because what I want them to do is to have a sustainable habit…”
Continuing his conversation on the measures that can be taken to help improve one’s health, Dr. Carpen turned his attention to the importance of exercise. While exercise may not be a regular practice of some, Dr. Carpen noted that it should be viewed as a necessity. “With our current hectic lifestyle that’s always a challenge but if you drive perhaps you should consider parking a block away from work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator; those are things that we can actually do…”
According to the heart expert, the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes a day, five days a week for brisk cardiovascular exercise such as walking, cycling, or swimming.
While diet and exercise is crucial, he said that one practice that is absolutely discouraged is that of smoking since “that is the number one bad habit that you can develop that can directly impact on your length of life.”
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