Dr. Yes and Dr. No: Musings on ‘World Heart Day’

First things first. Whenever the word doctor is uttered, one naturally conjures up the image of a medical doctor. But there is  another category of doctors also. They are those holding highest University degree in any faculty (Ph.D).

These days, this category of doctors are a dime a dozen who have done research on subjects trivial and frivolous with the sole objective of getting a teaching job under the University Grants Commission (UGC) with a fat salary. So fat, it is leading them not towards pursuit of knowledge to teach and do research but towards a life of luxury and indolence. Honourable exceptions are there no doubt but they are as rare as a hen’s teeth.

There is also a third category of doctors. They are the venerable senior citizens who have excelled themselves in their given field of activity. Like film actor Dr. Rajkumar, writer Dr. Shivarama Karanth, the well-known photographer T.S. Satyan and others. However, since it is a honour bestowed on them by the University, their honorific is usually not used as a prefix before their names. I remember T.S. Satyan walking into my office with some irritation and educating me on the use of this kind of Doctorate in invitations  news, essays or novels. It has to be mentioned separately just as in the case of national civilian Padma honours.

World over, eversince 1999, the 29th September every year is being observed as ‘World Heart Day.’ The objective is to create awareness about the need to take care of our hearts as it is found that heart disease is one of the highest killers of people all over the world. India is no exception.

The Cardiological Society of India (CSI), Mysore Chapter, headed by Dr. Harsha Basappa, Associate Professor, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Mysuru and its office-bearers, is observing ‘World Heart Day’ tomorrow, 7th October, 2018 with the year’s slogan ‘My Heart, Your Heart’ and by holding a walkathon — a long walk in city starting from JK Grounds, a walk for a healthy heart and terminating at the same place for a function in the MMC&RI Platinum Jubilee Auditorium at 10 am.

In my younger days, there used to be only Government Doctors — Physicians and Surgeons. Private practice was not in vogue, except for dentists. As population took a quantum leap, Medical Colleges mushroomed, a plethora of specialists among doctors began to come out of these Colleges. As a result, specialisations extended to such an extreme that today if you went to a doctor with a nose problem he would ask you which nostril ? If you have eye problem, the same question and only a specialist would attend or you would be sent to another ‘specialist hospital’ or doctor. Of course, the beneficiary of this ‘specialisation’ phenomenon is the patient, even if it costs more and takes many visits. Alleluia !

The same could be said of the heart diseases. These days there are as many kinds of heart specialists as there are heart diseases. From diagnosing the problem to its proper, successful treatment, it is a challenge to a Cardiologist and also to the Surgeon. I guess among all the diseases that a person is afflicted with — be it cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, whatever — it is only the heart-related diseases that cannot wait while all other ailments can be managed with time. Surprisingly, many with symptoms of heart problem delude themselves attributing them to either ‘gastric problem’ or ‘muscle catch’ at their own peril.

The problem of the heart (to jest, including the problem of love !) however, cannot wait for tomorrow. A case of now or never. Tomorrow it may be too late. It is because, if heart stops the functioning of all other organs of our body stops. And the person is dead. Which is why, heart care takes the top priority in medical care. I am speaking from my own authority because I am a member of the ‘Heart Bypass Members Club’ now having my morning walk regularly. I love walking in the morning and I also love Johnnie Walker for company in the evening !

I sometimes wonder without these Cardiologists and the advances made in heart-related medical research what would have been the fate of many with heart ailments. For sure, it would have had an impact on the size of population and resulted in poor quality of life for those on ‘survival’ medication — almost living like vegetable — don’t eat this, that; don’t run, don’t climb steps, don’t lift weight, don’t have sex and such too many Don’ts.

Now, thanks to Cardiologists — Consultants, Interventionalists and Surgeons — a heart patient has hope. Yesterday’s newspapers carried a news about the death of Mrs. Ramila Umashankar, Deputy Mayor, Bengaluru, due to heart attack. If only she had seen her Cardiologist… But then it is a big IF. This is where the preventive care of the heart plays an important role. One such step is in taking the first step for the morning or evening walk every day. Hence, tomorrow’s ‘Walkathon’ for good heart. Join in.

On this occasion, we must thank the then Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and also the Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Bengaluru, Dr. C.N. Manjunath, for establishing a similar hospital with the same name here in city on KRS Road. It is now headed by young Cardiologists Dr. K.S. Sadananda as Medical Superintendent and Dr. Harsha Basappa as Associate Professor. I learn the daily number of patient-footfall (!) is over 500. This Hospital should be a hope for the financially poor heart patients who can’t afford the Corporate Hospitals.

e-mail: kbg@starofmysore.com

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