Happy and healthy living
The transcript of a chat with Dr Devi Shetty,
(Heart Specialist) Bangalore was arranged by
WIPRO for its employees.
Q: What are the thumb rules for a layman to take care of his
A: 1. Diet - Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil
2. Exercise - Half an hourís walk, at least five days a week; avoid
lifts and avoid sitting for a long time
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control blood pressure and sugar
Q: Is eating non-veg food (fish) good for the heart?
Q: Itís still a grave shock to hear that some apparently
healthy persons gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in
A: This is called silent attack; that is why we recommend
everyone past the age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups.
Q: Are heart diseases hereditary?
Q: What are the ways in which the heart is stressed? What
practices do you suggest to de-stress?
A: Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for
perfection in everything in life.
Q: Is walking better than jogging or is more intensive
exercise required to keep a healthy heart?
A: Walking is better than jogging since jogging leads to early
fatigue and injury to joints.
Q: You have done so much for the poor and needy. What has
inspired you to do so?
A: Mother Theresa, who was my patient.
Q: Can people with low blood pressure suffer heart diseases?
A: Extremely rare.
Q: Does cholesterol accumulate right from an early age (Iím
currently only 22) or do you have to worry about it only after you are
above 30 years of age?
A: Cholesterol accumulates from childhood.
Q: How do irregular eating habits affect the heart?
A: You tend to eat junk food when the habits are irregular and
your bodyís enzyme release for digestion gets confused.
Q: How can I control cholesterol content without using
A: Control diet, walk and eat walnut.
Q: Can yoga prevent heart ailments?
A: Yoga helps.
Q: Which is the best and worst food for the heart?
A: Fruits and vegetables are the best and the worst is oil.
Q: Which oil is better - groundnut, sunflower, olive?
A: All oils are bad.
Q: What is the routine checkup one should go through? Is there
any specific test?
A: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is ok.
Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo.
Q: What are the first aid steps to be taken on a heart attack?
A: Help the person into a sleeping position, place an aspirin
tablet under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush
him to a coronary care unit since the maximum casualty takes place
within the first hour.
Q: How do you differentiate between pain caused by a heart
attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?
A: Extremely difficult without ECG.
Q: What is the main cause of a steep increase in heart
problems among youngsters? I see people of about 30-40 yrs of age having
heart attacks and serious heart problems.
A: Increased awareness has increased incidents. Also,
sedentary lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country
where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart
attacks than Europeans and Americans.
Q: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside the normal
range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly healthy?
Q: Marriages within close relatives can lead to heart problems
for the child. Is it true?
A: Yes, co-sanguinity leads to congenital abnormalities and
you may not have a software engineer as a child.
Q: Many of us have an irregular daily routine and many a times
we have to stay late nights in office. Does this affect our heart? What
precautions would you recommend?
A: When you are young, nature protects you against all these
irregularities. However, as you grow older, respect the biological
Q: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some other
complications (short/long term)?
A: Yes, most drugs have some side effects. However, modern
anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.
Q: Will consuming more coffee/tea lead to heart attacks?
Q: Are asthma patients more prone to heart disease?
Q: How would you define junk food?
A: Fried food, samosas and even masala dosas.
Q: You mentioned that Indians are three times more vulnerable.
What is the reason for this, as Europeans and Americans also eat a lot
of junk food?
A: Every race is vulnerable to some disease and unfortunately,
Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive disease.
Q: Does consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?
Q: Can a person help himself during a heart attack (Because we
see a lot of forwarded emails on this)?
A: Yes. Lie down comfortably and put an aspirin tablet of any
description under the tongue and ask someone to take you to the nearest
coronary care unit without any delay and do not wait for the ambulance
since most of the time, the ambulance does not turn up.
Q: Do, in any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin
count lead to heart problems?
A: No. But it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to
increase your exercise capacity.
Q: Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to
exercise. So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing
the stairs in the house, work as a substitute for exercise?
A: Certainly. Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an
hour and even the act of getting out of the chair and going to another
chair and sitting helps a lot.
Q: Is there a relation between heart problems and blood sugar?
A: Yes. A strong relationship, since diabetics are more
vulnerable to heart attacks than non-diabetics.
Q: What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart
A: Diet, exercise, drugs on time, Control cholesterol, BP,
Q: Are people working on night shifts more vulnerable to heart
disease when compared to day shift workers?
Q: What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?
A: There are hundreds of drugs and your doctor will choose the
right combination for your problem, but my suggestion is to avoid the
drugs and go for natural ways of controlling blood pressure by walk,
diet to reduce weight and changing attitudes towards lifestyles.
Q: Does aspirin or similar headache pills increase the risk of
Q: Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in women?
A: Nature protects women till the age of 45.¬ (Present Global
census show that the percentage of heart disease in women has increased
than in men)
Q: How can one keep the heart in a good condition?
A: Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise everyday, do
not smoke and, go for health checkups if you are past the age of 30
(once in six months recommended).