All about the heart | Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan

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Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Latest column in Jang AKhbar .

First of all, Eid Mubarak in advance and best wishes to all of you. May this Eid be a truly blessed and happy occasion. Deaths from heart attacks are increasing day-by-day. Even slim sportspersons, young people who regularly exercise and teenagers are gradually falling victim to heart failure. I am not a medical doctor and the following information has come to me in various forms from people who are experts on the matter.

A heart attack – which, in medical terms, is known as a myocardial infarction – occurs when a fatty atherosclerotic deposit or a blood clot suddenly blocks one or more of the coronary arteries. This cuts off blood supply and oxygen from that section of the heart muscle.

The lack of oxygen causes the cells in the affected portion of the heart muscle to die. The main symptom of a heart attack is usually a severe, crushing pain in the centre of the chest which persists – though it is a known fact that in women these symptoms are often not present. The pain may radiate to the back, neck, jaw or arms and is usually accompanied by nausea and perspiration. If the infarction covers a large area or happens to hit vital areas of the heart, death may result. Thousands of people around the world die in this way every year.

The reasons for this usually include being overweight and having high cholesterol levels, hypertension and diabetes. Among 10 percent and 20 percent of people – especially women – heart attacks are silent, painless and sometimes accompanied by sudden bouts of vomiting for unknown reasons. These people don’t know they are having had a heart attack until a doctor detects damage through tests such as the ECG and the CT angiography.

A talk was delivered at Nust by Major General Dr Azhar Mahmood Kayani, a renowned cardiologist, on how to prevent heart diseases. He introduced a handy kit that could save a person from dying of a sudden heart attack. The kit contains the following items: Disprin tablets, Angisid tablets and Deponit NT5 skin patch. The speaker said that if someone suddenly feels a tightening pain in the centre of the chest, which radiates to the left arm or both sides of the neck and is accompanied by perspiration, there is a strong likelihood that he or she is having a heart attack. The following measures should be taken immediately: chew one Disprin tablet, keep one Angisid tablet under the tongue and stick the Deponit NT5 skin patch on the left side of the chest. The items in this kit would cost about between Rs50 and Rs55 and can save a life without any specific expert handling. It is advisable for every individual above the age of 40 to always carry such a kit with them. The professor concluded by adding that this information should be disseminated to everyone as it could save their life.

According to a separate source, when you encounter these symptoms, you should cough hard again and again in order to increase blood supply, and thereby oxygen, to the heart to get temporary relief until a doctor can be reached.

Yet another source explains how eliminating wheat from your diet can improve your health.

Cardiologist William Davis MD, started his career repairing damaged hearts through angioplasty and bypass surgeries.“That’s what I was trained to do and, at first, that’s what I wanted to do,” he explains. But when his own mother died of a heart attack in 1995, despite receiving the best cardiac care, he was forced to face nagging concerns about his profession. He states that: “I’d fix a patient’s heart, only to see him come back with the same problems. It was just a band-aid, with no effort to identify the ‘cause’ of the disease”.

As a result, he moved his practice toward a highly unchartered medical territory – prevention – and spent the next 15 years examining the causes of heart disease in his patients. This research culminated in his book titled Wheat Belly. This book attributes many of our physical problems – including heart disease, diabetes and obesity – to our consumption of wheat. Wheat raises our blood sugar dramatically. In fact, two slices of wheat bread raises your blood sugar level more than a Snickers bar.

According to Davis: “When my patients give up wheat, weight loss is substantial, especially from the abdomen. People can lose several inches in the first month. Since 80 percent of my patients had diabetes or pre-diabetes and I knew that wheat spiked blood sugar more than almost anything else, I suggested removing wheat from their diet to see what happened to their blood sugar. They would come back three to six months later and their blood sugar would be dramatically reduced. But I also had many other positive reactions from patients”.

Wheat contains Amylopectin A, a trigger of small LDL particles in the blood – the number one cause of heart disease. When wheat is removed from a person’s diet, these levels plummet by between 80 percent and 90 percent. Wheat also contains Gliadin, a protein that stimulates appetite. Eating wheat increases the average person’s calorie intake by 400 calories a day. Gliadin is addictive, as fact food scientists have known for almost 20 years.

Davis states that: “I encourage people to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unpasteurized cheese, eggs and meats. Wheat really changed in the 1970s and 1980s due to scientific genetic alterations. The wheat we eat today is not the same wheat that was eaten 100 years ago. If you stop eating breads/pasta/chapattis every day and start eating rice with chicken and vegetables, you still lose weight because rice doesn’t raise blood sugar as high as wheat and it also doesn’t have the Amylopectine A or the Gliadin that stimulated appetite. That’s part of the reason why people [from] foreign cultures that don’t consume wheat tend to be slenderer and healthier. Everyone should stop eating wheat. This is the closest I know of to transform your life.”

The advice given by these two eminent cardiologists will help protect you from heart attacks and improve your health.

PS: Our cricket team deserve to be congratulated and thanked for giving us such a great Eid gift!