Come ON.... Laugh and Live
Here are some facts:
~Four out of 10 Indians suffer from high blood pressure (also referred to as hypertension).
~Around 530,000 Indians die of hypertension-related coronary diseases every year. Medical experts say the figure is likely to double each year.
~A study in north India says the incidence of hypertension among men has increased from 3.98 percent in 1963 to 26.78 percent in 2000. Among women, it rose from 6.64 percent to 27.65 percent.
Jonathan Swift once said, 'The best doctors in the world are Dr Diet, Dr Quiet and Dr Merryman.' Obviously, they are in short supply these days because the major causes cited for the increase in hypertension are sedentary lifestyles and faulty dietary patterns.
A bit about hypertension: It is tough to detect hypertension during the initial stages. The symptoms are visible only when body organs like the kidney, eyes, heart and arteries are affected, says Dr Srikant Reddy, cardiologist at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, Delhi.
The causes for hypertension: A sedentary lifestyle, chronic psychological stress, excessive salt intake, obesity, smoking, drinking and faulty dietary patterns.
The symptoms of hypertension
Symptoms vary from person to person and the ones given below could also be symptoms of other health problems. But doctors say you could be suffering from hypertension if you exhibit any, or a combination, of the following symptoms. Please get your blood pressure checked if you do exhibit these symptoms:
~Loss of breath after mild exertion
~Strong need to urinate often (especially nights)
~Tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ears)
~Vertigo (a feeling that you or the world is spinning dizzily)
"Physical exercise, yoga, relaxation techniques and good nutrition help in lowering blood pressure levels and controlling mental and psychological stress. These therapies are initially recommended to hypertense patients," says Dr Reddy.
1. As a first step to control hypertension, doctors ask patients to improve faulty dietary patterns. This includes reducing their salt and calorie intake and opting for a potassium-rich diet which contains fruits and vegetables, says Dr Mukesh Batra, a Mumbai-based cardiologist.
2. Among non-drug therapies, you can opt for Ayurveda or Homeopathy.
3. You could also try alternative therapies like humour therapy. This is a non-drug technique that reduces stress and increases the levels of disease-fighting proteins like Gamma-interferon and B cells, which produce disease-destroying anti-bodies, says Dr Batra.
Laughter boosts the immune system and helps in muscle relaxation.
How laughter helps
1. The late Dr Laurence Peter, author of The Peter Principle, said it was nearly impossible to feel tense when you laugh. The bigger the laugh, the lower the tension and the more long-lasting the relief. A state of reduced tension may last for an hour after a good laugh.
2. Laughter reduces muscle tension and stimulates the heart and lungs. It also causes the diaphragm, the main muscle for respiration, to go into overdrive. The heavy, deep respiration that accompanies hearty laughter increases the oxygen level in the blood.
And the expert says...
Here are some recommendations from Joyce Saltman, a therapist from the Southern Connecticut State University, on how to find laughter every day:
~Designate a section at work as a place for a new joke of the day, every day.
~Surround yourself with positive people.
~Avoid people who are constantly negative. They can diminish positive energy.
~Buy clothes that make you smile.
~Wear the brightest clothes you can find to brighten your day and the day of others around you.
~Have a VCR/DVD player ready. Record the funniest television shows you can find. When you or a friend need to be cheered, play them.
~Make a list of 20 things to do in a day that make you happy.
~Every so often, update this list. Make sure you do at least 10 of these items each day!