Indoor air pollution can damage the lungs over time

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Lung diseases are one of the major causes of mortality in India

New Delhi, 16 October 2018: Recent statistics indicate that about 55 million people in India suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In India, three out of five leading causes of mortalityare noncommunicable diseases and COPD is the second biggest cause of death. October is the Healthy Lung Month and awareness must be raised on the fact that it is imperative to take precautionary measures to avoid lung diseases.

An umbrella term used to describe progressive, inflammatory lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, COPD is an often overlooked but serious global health threat. Air pollution is a leading cause of this condition. In India, COPD is under diagnosed as a lung function test, spirometry, is often not conducted during preliminary investigations.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “COPD is a disease that develops over time, with some of the major reasons for it being smoking and exposure to chemical irritants. Some people are also genetically predisposed to developing COPD. About 5% people with this condition have a deficiency in a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin which causes lungs to deteriorate and can also affect the liver. The stages of this condition range from stage I to stage IV. With time, the disease progressively becomes worse. Stage IV is also known as ‘end stage’ COPD. Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults. The disease is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.”

Some common signs and symptoms of COPD include ongoing cough or a cough that produces a lot of mucus; shortness of breath, especially with physical activity; wheezing or a whistling or squeaky sound while breathing; chest tightness.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor in Chief of IJCP, said, “The most effective and preventative therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is to avoid contact with tobacco smoke. Medication includes bronchodilators that relax the muscles around the airways. These help in opening the airways and make breathing easier. Surgery is usually the last resort and undertaken only after all other options do not benefit the patient.”

Indoor pollution is also one of the risk factors for COPD. The HCFI has initiated a campaign against this silent killer as part of the 25th MNTL Perfect Health Mela 2018 to be organized between 23rd and 27th October at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Exercise well as it will help your lungs to function to their full potential. Do exercises that will make you breath fast to ensure healthy lungs.
  • Avoid smoking as it reduces lung function and is a major factor leading to COPD.
  • Eat healthy and food that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts for healthy lungs.
  • Avoid exposure to air pollution as it can damage the lungs and make it more prone to infections and diseases. Ensure that you dust furniture frequently and make your home a smoke-free zone.

Only 12.5% of those with cancer avail treatment at an early stage of the disease

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India is witnessing a steep rise in cancer cases, majority of which are due to lifestyle factors

New Delhi, 15 October 2018: Recent research suggests that there has been an increase in the incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) and skin cancer among locals in the Ladakh region of India. The high altitude, exposure to excessive ultraviolet (UV) rays, lack of oxygen, and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the causes attributed to the increase. The rise in GI cancer is mostly due to the unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle which includes consumption of stored meat and hot beverages.

GI cancer is more common in men over the age of 40. Women who have undergone menopause are also prone to it. What adds to the burden is that fact that people are not aware of the early symptoms of this condition especially in Ladakh. There is also a lack of access to cancer treatment and proper drugs to combat GI cancer.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Cancer cases in India are rising not just because of better diagnostic facilities but also owing to the shift in the way we lead our lives. About one-third of cancer deaths are related to 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks namely tobacco, high BMI, low fruit and vegetable consumption, lack of physical activity, and alcohol use. Creating awareness becomes especially important as only 12.5% of patients come for treatment in early stages of the disease. Although cancer has become an epidemic with a steep rise in its incidence, the irony is that cancer medicines are very expensive and beyond the reach of a common man. Thus, price control is very necessary to provide people with affordable cancer medicines. The government should also take adequate steps to ensure early diagnosis of cancer because it is a proven fact that early diagnosis can save many lives.”

The theme for the 25th MTNL Perfect Health Mela 2018 this year is Affordable Healthcare. As a part of the event, the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) also launched a campaign on ‘Make in India for Cure in India’.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Make in India is imperative for Cure in India and it must be promoted to ensure that no one lacks access to timely treatment. This covers medical devices as well. The aim is to achieve the overall goal of affordable health care for all by making all critical and lifesaving medical devices available and accessible at affordable prices.”

Some prevention tips from HCFI.

Here are some lifestyle changes one can make to prevent cancer.

  • Avoid using tobacco in any form: Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas.
  • Consume a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important to prevent the risk of cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy weight This can lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Physical activity every day is important to not just reduce weight but also keep fit.
  • Avoid risky habits: Habits such as unsafe sex and sharing needles can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer.

Sanitation and hygiene are part of preventive health; can ward off diseases such as Zika

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New cases reported in India; people should be aware of symptoms and measures

New Delhi, 14 October 2018: About 42 cases of a localized outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus disease (ZVD) have been reported in Jaipur, Rajasthan so far already. A seven-member high level central committee has been deputed to the city. The Zika virus–which has no cure or vaccine–was first found in Pune 64 years ago, as part of a survey that was testing immunity to Japanese and Russian varieties of a virus-borne brain infection called encephalitis.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. The symptoms of this disease are similar to those in other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Dengue and Chikungunya are already endemic in the country. Like Dengue and Chikungunya, Zika is a viral infection and also shares a common vector with them, the Aedes mosquitoes. The incubation period is 3 to 14 days. Most people are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms such as fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Symptoms generally last for 2–7 days. These new cases tell us that all this time, the Zika virus has been circulating in the community and suggest low-level transmission of the virus. There is also the likelihood of more cases occurring in the near future. This should be of great concern to all, especially the public health authorities given India’s huge population, and climate that is favorable to vector-borne diseases.”

Zika virus infection is also a trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis, particularly in adults and older children.A pregnant woman can pass the virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as microcephaly.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Patients should be advised to take paracetamol to relieve fever and pain, plenty of rest and plenty of liquids. Avoid aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. While enhanced surveillance, community-based including at international airports and ports, to track cases of acute febrile illness is the need of the hour, creating public awareness about the disease including preventive measures should be the focus. At the same time, the public should be assured that there is no need to panic.”

Hygiene and sanitation are the cornerstones for preventing mosquito-borne disease such as Zika. This is also one aspect of preventive health, a topic that will be discussed widely in the 25thMTNL Perfect Health Mela 2018. The event will take place from 23rd to 27th October at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Stay inside when the Aedes are most active. They bite during the daytime, in the very early morning, and in the few hours before sunset.
  • Buildings with screens and air conditioning are safest.
  • Wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when you go outside.
  • Ensure that rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
  • Wear bug spray or cream that contains DEET or a chemical called picaridin.

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