Eminent Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr Namal Gamage attached to the karapitiya Teaching Hospital has warned that bad food habits is a leading cause for the current surge in Ischaemic heart diseases in Sri Lanka.
In response to a question by the Sunday Observer on the kind of food that should be avoided, he said, “Avoid food which have a high concentration of Cholesterol.” Asked why he explained, “Cholesterol Ischemic heart disease is one entity of heart diseases caused by poor blood supply to the heart muscle due to the narrowing of small blood vessels of the heart. This narrowing 99 percent of the time is caused by cholesterol deposits in the interior of those small blocks”
Asked what kind of cholesterol rich food we should avoid he said, “ cholesterol rich food items are red meat, egg yolk, crab, prawn, gee , curd, cream of milk, cheese, cuttlefish, butter and margarine. They contain cholesterol in high concentration. Apart from them oily foods made up using saturated fats like palm oil, food items which are deep fried, foods fried reusing same oil again and again enhance cholesterol production inside the body””
He said that there were many causes for ischemic heart disease which included active or passive smoking, lack of exercise, overweight, bad food habits, heavy alcohol indulgence, work related or domestic stress. All these are preventable causes, he said.
“Food with high levels of fats, oil, animal source foods with high cholesterol, refined starchy foods with little fiber or roughage, too much of sweet, too much salt all must be avoided,” he said. Instead, he advised, “Eat fresh and less cooked or uncooked vegetables and leaves as frequently as possible. Fresh fruits, green and black tea staple diet of less refined or polished grains are good. ‘‘Always eat as less as possible however good and healthy the food is.’, he added.
He told Medi Snips that the disease was now being seen in younger persons. Asked why, he said, “Younger people being the main workforce are more dependent on the fast food due to their busy lifestyle and due to many of them adopting unhealthy urban life styles and eating habits. Coronary heart disease starting in these teenagers soon grow into the maximum scale during early middle age itself, he warned.
Guidelines to prevent spread of Covid-19, a timely intervention
The Health Ministry recently issued guidelines on several pertinent health issues relating to the Coronovirus to be circulated immediately to all District and Provincial health officials, MOH’s and other health institutions as well as hospitals throughout the country, so as to minimise risks of exposure to the virus by the public
The Sunday Observer spoke to Community Physician of the Health Ministry Dr Ramya Premaratne to find out more about these interventions. Asked to mention some of the main highlights starting with the Covid-19 vaccination program at Health care institutions, She said, “The Ministry of Health Sri Lanka deployed its COVID-19 vaccine tracker based on the District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2) platform on 28 January 2021. The purpose of District Health Information Systems (DHIS) is to document data that are routinely collected in all public health facilities in a country using the system.
The system was deployed at all vaccination centers around the country.”
In reply to Medi snip’s query on a subject that is currently causing anxiety among nursing mothers, namely how to ensure that they are able to continue to breast feed babies born during the pandemic suspected or confirmed have Covid-19, she said, “We have already issued guidelines to mothers on this subject. The Health Ministry began prioritising and identifying the needs of pregnant and lactating women early on to ensure adequate protection and support in line with recommended feeding practices. Hence all nursing mothers of infants with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 are now able to initiate breastfeeding early with skin-to-skin contact. They can exclusively breast feed the baby like normal mothers for the first six months safely as we have applied necessary hygiene precautions and measures to disrupt breastfeeding or separate the baby from the mother.”
On guidelines to be followed when feeding infected infants, she said, “Mothers are encouraged to wash hands with soap and water before and after contact with the infant. And, if the mother has respiratory symptoms, we advise her to use a face mask when caring for the infant. We also advise nursing mothers of Covid infected babies to maintain physical distancing with other people and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.”
Responding to our query on environmental cleanliness and correct disposal of waste material in households and places under self-quarantine, she said that the The Government of Sri Lanka formulated the “Interim guideline for management of solid waste generated by households and places under self-quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. The interim guideline is prepared in line with the current solid waste management policy, regulation and standards.”
Asked if as a Community Physician if she had any advice to the public in general to minimize exposure risks to the current pandemic and variants now circulating in the country, she gave the following advice:. “When mixing with others or going out to public places, it is important that they wear clean properly fitted facial masks to cover both nose and mouth. They must also strictly follow our sanitary guidelines such as frequent hand washing with soap and water using correct hand washing techniques. When soap and water is not accessible, use 70% alcohol hand rub. Maintain social distancing by keeping at least 1 meter distance between two people especially with anyone who is coughing or sneezing. ”
What about high risk patients with diabetes, hypertension etc? Medi snips asked. In reply she said, “Patients who are at high risk categories (immunosuppressed, hypertension, diabetes, CKD) need to take special precautions. They should avoid crowded places and public transport as much as possible. If unavoidable, choose transport with minimal congestion. Avoid social gatherings. Avoid touching face, eyes, nose and mouth. Maintain coughing etiquette to ensure respiratory hygiene”.
She also urged them to avoid social gatherings, air conditioned areas and drink adequate water and liquids to maintain good hydration. She added that they should consume foods containing vitamin C and zinc to ensure good immunity.