HEART DISEASE A NEW DIRECTION

( By Dr Ramesh Kapadia )

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Feedbacks

In an effort to study the feedbacks of our patients we held a meeting of the spouses of the participants with Coronary Heart Disease who have been attending our program for longer than a year. All these participants had improved a great deal in their clinical status; they were all controlled by the basic long term therapy. Very encouraring three pieces of information emerged from the group discussion with the spouses :



  1. All of them observed that there was no special diet for their husbands and their families had adopted a new way of eating and they enjoyed this. There was no sense of deprivation.


  2. They did not fear heart disease any more. They were confident that their husbands would continuento do well. In fact, most of them said that they had improved in their general health, and materially also they were not lagging behind.


  3. Their husbands became less irrascible. The situations which used to irritate them before, they say, do not upset them now so much. We like to call these 'spiritual gains'; by that we mean that the spirit of the whole family has thus changed for better. These are the qualities of spirit -fearlessness, acceptance of the new way of eating without missing the old food habits - the new way of living without using tobacco, alcohol, and without getting angry in situatins which would otherwise cause irritation. A generous attitude towards colleagues, superiors as well as subordinates; a desire to be helpful ; all these attiributes blossom forth due to the practice of meditation. I have talked about meditation in detail. One thing it does most to its practitioner is that it teaches the practitioner to live in present moment, to make the most of the present moment.

    When one is totally engaged in the present moment, time stands still. Most of the stresses originate from the perception of fleeting time, a constant feeling that there is a lot to be done and that the time is short. A very wise Sufi said, "Be busy the whole day, but while retiring to sleep, do not go with the thoughts of what is left to be next day. No person has every closed his eyes for every having done everything what he wished to do." It is human to plan for the future and reminisce the past. There is nothing wrong in remembering the past. But to be occupied with the past and the future in every living moment is to ruin the essence of life which exists always in the present moment only. So it will be good to retire at night with an idea that all things to be done have been done and now as I sleep there is nothing left out.

    A male aged 60, who got bypass surgery done in May 1989, felt miserable because within six months of bypass surgery angina recurred and treadmill test became strongly positive. He was advised to repeat angiography. He has been with us since October 2, 1991 and in his own words, "I am a totally different man with a lot of confidence and with the minimum of maintenance medical therapy, and am practically symptom- free." He is one of our most regular participants of the program which is conducted twice a week for an hour in the evenings. Somebody asked him, "Do you not get bored of doing the same ritual for the last four years?" Mr. Mehta replied that in fact he enjoyed it all the more. Every time he did it, it gave him a new sense of relaxation. The whole exercise is like coming home to oneself.

    A retired executive of Life Insurance Corporation of India, aged 60, had a heart attacked about three years ago, and was advised angiography as his treadmill test was strongly positive. He did not have angiography done. He joined our program in 1993. Now he is fully rehabilitated and has this observation to make about the program : "Doctor, I had a desire to accomplish three things: (I) to be able to give up smoking since I was a chainsmoker; (ii) to be able to reduce weight - I weighed more than 80 kgs., and (iii) to control anger. I was notorious for my bad temper. Now I am happy to say that I have achieved all these. I do not smoke at all;. I do not even think of smoking. I have reduced weight by about 10 kgs., and my family is happily surprised at the change of my temperament."

    A 35 year old male had a severe heart attack about two years ago (1993). His coronary angiogram showed triple vessel disease. He was advised bypass surgery. Now without surgery he is completely recovered, doing about 12 hours of work in his own small steel furniture factory. He has also changed his food habits. He takes medications regularly and says that he enjoys the visualizxation techniques and meditation a great deal. He vividly picturises in his mind that the deposits in his coronary arteries have been washed away and the blood flow through his coronary arteries is now completely unobstructd and feels energetic all day long.

    Another male about 58 was denied the benefit of bypass surgery because of severe diffuse disease in his coronary arteries. He had angina on even the slightest effort. He joined our program about three years ago. He is now practically symptom-free on modest medications. He walks daily for about 30-40 minutes, rides his two- wheeler, and remains busy with his tailoring business the whole day.

    A young coronary patient related his experience in an eye camp where he gave his services as a volunteer for 16 ours at a stretch. During the whole day about 150 cataract operations were done. He had to give even bedpan to the patients. However he did not experience angina on that day whereas during his office work he feels tired even after six hours of routine work and gets angina even if he does moderately streneous work. This is known as "Helper's High." While helping others the chemical changes that occur in the blood promote health.

    The feedback from our lady participants of the age group between 40 and 55 is also very encouraging. A lady aged 52 had severe unstable angina about 3 years ago. She was advised coronary angiography. However, she pursued intensive medical treatment and took the help of our program. Now for the last year and a half she has been practically symptom-free on minimum medication. She keeps busy all the day long with her hourhold duties.

    Another lady aged 55 had angina about three years ago. She was also advised to go in for angiographic studies. She did not get angiography done. She affirms that she is greatly benefitted by the program. She could even bear with equanimity the loss of her dear younger sister due to cancer.

    Another unfortunate couple in their late fifties had a great tragedy, for their daughter was murdered. The husband got angina and the wife suffered from angina and severe depression. Both of them have now a sense of well-being, and for their recovery they give credit to the program.

    These are sample feedbacks. Since the book is meant largely for the common reader the scientific deails of the cases given here are not mentioned. WE have no an array of them reiterating the same benefits ; freedom from fear, the increased confidence, joy of the new way of life, reduction in anger, the increased feeling of oneness wth the people around, and medications reduced to the bare minium to control their associated hypertension and diabetes, as the case may be. To sum up,. we are reasonably convinced that the program has added a new dimension to the healing of Coronary Heart Disease. We would call it a "spiritual dimention", the dimension without which the management of coronary heart disease would be incomplete.

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