20 March 2011
By Vasumita S Adarsh
How was the Hriday Mitra Pratishtan started, and what are your main areas of focus in Pune?
I started Hridaymitra after my father passed away due to a cardiac arrest in 1994, with just Rs 1,000. We introduced the concept of 'donate Rs 100 and become a Hriday Mitra'. Today, we have a corpus fund of Rs 20 lakhs.
We use the money to help needy patients at the Sassoon Hospital, especially children requiring heart surgeries. Many celebrities have endorsed our work. We also have a heart surgery help guidance centre, and I have written a book on 'how to get help for heart surgery' (for poor patients).
The book has helped raise Rs 200 crore in 16 years for heart surgeries, and has helped more than 15,000 people undergo angioplasty or bypass surgeries. We even have a publication division called Heart Maitri, besides a Heart Maitri bypass club for lectures and guidance sessions.
You have claimed that naturopathy and non invasive therapy can help in reversing heart problems. What is your experience and what kind of work is being done by Hriday Mitra Pratishtan in this direction ?
Naturopathy involves complementing natural medicines along with allopathic medicines and is useful for those who want an alternative to surgery. The benefits of lauki (bottle-gourd) juice has been propagated by Dr Manu Kothari, ex-chief of anatomy department at the KEM Hospital.
We recommend our patients to drink lauki juice everyday along with their regular heart medicines. But this will only work with a complete reversal of lifestyle by avoiding all forms of tobacco, alcohol, and non-vegetarian foods except boiled fish, starting an exercise regime and avoiding stress.
Lauki juice has been proved to contain plenty of anti-oxidants. In the raw form, it takes only 20 minutes to reach the heart. It can help control cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, weight, etc. Controlling these conditions itself helps in collateral formation of blood vessels and arteries, leading to natural bypass. But people should, however, take care not to drink bitter lauki juice as it can cause food poisoning.
It is important that our treatment be used along with allopathic heart medicines recommended by the doctor. We have reversed bypass and angioplasty in more than 4,000 cases through naturo-therapy, and this treatment also helps to prevent recurrence of heart problems.
What are the main health-related trends that you see in young people in the city ?
Today, the average age for heart-attacks has come down from 58 to 43 years in India. The World Health Organisation’s statistics show that more than 40 lakh people die due to cardiac arrests every year in India. By 2015, one crore people can die due to heart attacks every year in India.
This is because we lack a culture which promotes exercising regularly. In addition, there is high consumption of non-vegetarian foods (which takes 72 hours to digest), fast foods, oily snacks, sugary soft drinks - all of which disturbs our metabolism and leads to heart problems.
In Pune, people as young as 26 years have come to me with heart problems because of stress and unhealthy lifestyles. Menopausal age of women has come down from an average of 55 to 40 years, causing health problems. Most people above 40 suffer from BP, diabetes, or cholesterol. Pollution and adulteration of foodstuffs are also contributory factors.
What are the important things we need to take care of today, to avoid heart problems in the future?
Moderation is the key today, whether it is having non-veg, or drinking, or work pressure. Taking steps at a young age, so you don't get diabetes is crucial. Yoga, exercise, meditation, etc helps us deal with stress. Simple habits such as brushing your teeth in the night, including fiber and nuts in our diet, keeping a three-hour gap between dinner and sleep will help us lead healthier lives. Also, foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids must be included in our diet.
What are your future plans for the organisation?
We plan to focus on launching a cancer helpline, and we are also going to form a community on Facebook to reach out to more people. A Diabetes Awareness Club has also been launched. We are making heart awareness posters for college youth and school children to make them aware about healthy living.
Our website (www.heartfriendly.org) helps us reach a large number of people, and we have also launched our health food shoppe in our premises, where we have many natural health food supplements such as lauki powder, Stevia extract, Omega-3 supplements, garlic powder, etc.