Pulse

Getting to the heart of your cardiac concerns

Ajith Pillai | Updated on January 12, 2018

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Dr Aashish Contractor’s book explains, answers and advises — in an affable manner

Given that aliments of the heart evoke considerable public interest and intense discussion, this was a book waiting to be written. From blood pressure to bypass surgery there is enough being written in the mainstream media and on the internet by so-called experts that create confusion rather than provide clarity, and often spread misinformation.

Bombarded with research findings that seemingly contradict each other, there are diets and exercise options thrown at us that pull in different directions, making us literally tear our hair out.

In the backdrop of this confusion, The Heart Truth — Everything You Wanted To Know About Prevention, Treatment And Reversal Of Heart Disease by Dr Aashish Contractor is a valuable information resource for the layperson to understand the various dimensions of coronary complications, their prevention and resolution. The intention of the book is to spell things out with clarity and Dr Contractor, recognised as a pioneer of cardiac rehabilitation in India, goes about the task with commendable lucidity and wit.

This is not a doctor prescribing from the pulpit but a heart expert sharing his knowledge as a friend would. As renowned cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty says in his foreword to the book, “He (Dr Contractor) has, in this wonderful book, done what we should have, as surgeons and cardiologists, to every patient we treat.” This is indeed a book that most families must add to their library given that we are witnessing an epidemic of coronary artery disease in India that is affecting the young as well as the old.

Apart from explaining the working of the heart in a reader friendly manner, the good doctor gets down to providing answers to basic queries he has had to field from patients in the course of his 18 years in the profession. For example, he has often been asked about the best test to detect cardiac trouble.

His answer: “...no single test exists that is foolproof. Each cardiac test will give you some information related to current and future risks, and all of it put together, along with a thorough medical history, will give you a good idea of your cardiac risk.” He goes on to spell the benefits and limitations of each test.

Bypass surgery and angioplasty are not the ultimate cure, he explains. They should only be seen as a first step towards preventing the progression of the disease. And this is where reversal of heart disease and rehabilitation plays a crucial role. Exercise and a healthy diet are crucial to this process. Dr Contractor devotes much space to these two vital components and offers pragmatic solutions which are patient friendly and not extreme or forbidding.

He answers a range of questions — is strenuous exercise good; is drinking wine healthy; which oil and how much of it is safe; which foods to avoid; does frying vegetables take away their nutritional value; can cardiac patients eat non-veg?

The book concludes with heart friendly recipes from celebrity chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and the late Tarla Dalal. Try some of their innovative offerings and, as Dr Contractor says, eat to your heart’s content!

Published by Westland Price ₹395

(The writer is a senior journalist and author.)

Published on January 06, 2017

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