Archive for February, 2021

Exercise can change your life!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Stressed, frustrated, or anxious about your career, relationships, or life in general? Highs and lows are a part of everyone’s life but an active lifestyle helps you float through and come out as a stronger and happier person. Did you know? Even a simple run has miraculous effects on your brain. Exercise can have a tremendous impact on your mood and acts as a positive coping mechanism in difficult times. In fact, in treating mild to moderate depression, it is thought that exercise can be just as beneficial as anti-depressants. Regular exercise not only has several physical health benefits but is also known to boost your mood, improve your sleep, and help you manage depression, anxiety and stress better.

Exercise and mental health
A new exercise habit enhances the brain’s reward system and increases neural connections among areas of the brain that helps calm anxiety. The natural state of the nervous system can be changed by daily physical activity so that it becomes more relaxed and less inclined to fight, flight, or fear. Around the world, people who exercise daily experience more gratitude, love, and hope in their life. These benefits are seen throughout the lifespan, including among those living with serious mental and physical health challenges. Choose a sport or exercise that you enjoy doing and see how it boosts your self-esteem and has a profound effect on your personality. Here are some of the underlying medical reasons why exercise positively impacts your mental health:

  • Exercise helps chronic depression by increasing serotonin (which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep, and appetite)
  • It reduces the levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol
  • Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse
  • Exercise increases your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters
  • Exercise helps regulate your sleep patterns
  • Exercise limits the effect of stress on your brain

The importance of exercise
People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. Throughout the day, they feel more energetic, sleep at night better, have sharper memories, and feel more comfortable throughout the day. And for this, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic or spend long hours at a gym. Research indicates that even modest amounts of exercise can make a great difference to your health. Avoid exercising only for weight-loss reasons, since it takes a few weeks or months to produce results. Look at the various ways that exercise benefits your well-being from the inside out. Focus on a health-related target to remain accountable for your fitness routine, such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, or sleeping better. Here is how maintaining a regular fitness regime benefits your health:

  • Uplifts your mood and reduces the risk of depression
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Protects your heart health
  • Helps relieve chronic pain
  • Help reduce stress levels
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Boosts your fertility levels
  • Improves your posture and makes you flexible
  • Increases your life span
  • Relieves PMS symptoms
  • Slows cognitive decline
  • Strengthens your bones and joints
  • Supports your eye health

Stay motivated to exercise regularly

For most adults at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity is recommended. Healthcare experts suggest that you can spread this exercise throughout the week. Choose your preferred fitness activity – walking, running, swimming, dancing, biking, playing sports, lifting weights, or practicing yoga and be regular with it. Here are some additional tips:

  • Make everyday activities more active – Even small changes can help. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk down to a nearby store instead of driving, park further away from your destination.
  • Be active with friends and family – Encourage plans with your family and friends that include exercise. It can be a trek or attending a virtual fitness class together too. Set aside sometime every week to play a sport with your children and spend quality family time together.
  • Keep track of your progress – Keeping a log of your activity or using a fitness tracker may help you set goals and stay motivated.
  • Make exercise more fun – Try listening to music while you exercise. You can also try a combination of fitness activities like power yoga, aerobics, playing tennis, running, going to the gym, and alternate between them.

Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your fitness, haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, lower back pain or arthritis. Stay fit, stay happy!

Congenital Heart Disease

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common type of birth defect seen in newborns and infants. India sees a birth prevalence of 9/1000 and more than 2,00,000 children are born with congenital heart disease every year. Of these, about one-fifth are likely to have a  birth serious defect and require a medical procedure or surgery in the first year of life. Nearly 10% of the infant mortality seen worldwide is due to congenital heart defects. Lack of awareness and missed or delayed diagnosis, inaccessibility to specialized cardiac care and economic constraints make the survival chances very low for children born with critical congenital heart defects. 

What are Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs)?
It is an abnormality or structural problem of the heart or circulatory system that an infant is born with. CHDs are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and the way it works. They can affect how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. CHDs can vary from being mild to severe and some babies need life-saving surgeries to survive at a very young age. About 20% to 30% of people with a CHD have other physical problems or developmental or cognitive disorders.

Risk factors of Congenital Heart Defects
It is very difficult to ascertain what causes a congenital heart defect. Some of the heart problems form before a baby is born, here are some factors that make these conditions more likely:

  • Diabetes – Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly during your pregnancy.  This condition can affect the formation and growth of your baby’s heart.
  • Rubella (German Measles) – If you get rubella during pregnancy, it can create problems with your baby’s heart. In case you were not vaccinated as a child for MMR, speak to your doctor about it.
  • Drinking and Smoking – Both these habits can lead to congenital heart defects and other problems with your baby’s development. Avoid them while you’re pregnant.
  • Medications – If you take any prescription drugs, talk to your gynaecologist to find out if they are safe in pregnancy as some medicines can increase your risk of heart and other birth defects.
  • Genetics -Your baby’s chance of having congenital heart defects rises if either of their parents or any relatives have problems. Talk to your doctor about genetic testing and counselling if a heart defect runs in your family.

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects
Doctors use a series of tests to diagnose congenital heart defects. They often find severe defects during pregnancy or soon after birth. Signs and symptoms of severe defects in newborns include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Cyanosis – a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails
  • Fatigue
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Swelling of the legs or stomach

The treatment of your child depends on the type of the defect, how severe it is, and a child’s age, size, and general health. Many children with congenital heart defects don’t need treatment, but others do. Treatment can include medicines, catheter procedures, surgery, and heart transplants.

For some people, signs or symptoms of this disease occur later in life. Adult congenital heart disease shows the same symptoms as above and normally takes one of two forms: a defect with no symptoms early in life that becomes associated with symptoms later on or a complex defect repaired during childhood that requires further repair or new treatment in adulthood. Because repaired congenital heart defects can still cause problems later on, patients with a defect repaired in childhood must be regular with their cardiac health check-ups throughout their lives. Occasionally, an adult will experience symptoms of a more complicated defect for the first time as an adult.

Treatment at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital
The Children’s Heart Centre at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital is a world-class facility specialising in providing comprehensive care for neonates, infants, children, and adults suffering from simple and complex congenital heart defects. The multidisciplinary team is made up of experts from Paediatric Cardiology, Paediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery, Paediatric Cardiac Anaesthesia, Paediatric Cardiac Intensive care areas, supported by specially trained Paediatric Perfusionists, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, social workers and counsellors.

We have a Full Time Specialist System that ensures doctors are available to our patients round the clock. This is highly beneficial in ensuring extraordinary and live-saving cardiac care to adults and children suffering from congenital heart defects. For more information regarding the Children’s Heart Centre please visit:

Epilepsy: Signs to Watch Out for and its treatment

Sunday, February 7th, 2021

India is home to more than 1.5 crore epilepsy patients, still the disease remains unknown to many and is surrounded by many superstitions. Epilepsy occurs as a result of an abnormal electrical activity originating in the brain and is a neurological condition that requires medical intervention. Epilepsy is a serious problem in our country, however, statistics suggest that while 60% of people in urban India consult a doctor after suffering a seizure, only 10% in rural India would do so. Nearly 95% of the people with active epilepsy do not receive appropriate treatment for their condition. The lack of awareness about epilepsy, poverty, cultural beliefs, stigma, and poor access to healthcare facilities contributes to a vast treatment gap. Increased awareness, correct diagnosis and timely treatment can help many epilepsy patients live seizure-free and help improve the quality of their life.

Seizures, abnormal movements or behaviour due to unusual electrical activity in the brain, are a symptom of epilepsy. It is observed that not all people who appear to have seizures have epilepsy. Seizures need to be investigated by a neurologist to check if they are epileptic. The person may have varying degrees of symptoms depending on the type of seizure. Here are a few common warning signs of a seizure:

  • Jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Falling suddenly for no apparent reason
  • Not responding to noise or words for brief periods
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Breathing problems or breathing stops
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Appearing confused or in a haze
  • Periods of rapid eye blinking and staring

Consult your doctor to investigate the reason behind your seizure.

What triggers an Epileptic seizure?
Some people are able to identify key factors or situations that can trigger seizures, a few common triggers include:

  • Missed medication
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Bright lights, flashing lights, or patterns
  • Caffeine, alcohol, or drugs

It is observed that a single incident doesn’t always mean something is a trigger. It’s often a combination of factors and repeated occurrence that trigger a seizure. Tracking your seizures and details around it helps your doctor adjust or change your medications or explore other treatment options.

How to deal with Seizures
Is someone around you having a seizure? Here are few tips to help that person:

  • Stay calm
  • Loosen any tight clothing especially around the neck
  • Allow the person to rest or sleep
  • Put something soft under his or her head
  • Remove sharp objects or other harmful objects around the person
  • Roll the person onto one side
  • Stay with the person till they are better, call for medical help if needed

Myths and facts about Epilepsy
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding epilepsy disease. Some of these include:

Myth: If someone is having a seizure, you should put something into their mouth.
Fact: Never put anything in a person’s mouth who is having a seizure. This could end up hurting the person more.

Myth: You should restrain someone having a seizure.
Fact: Never hold down a person during a seizure. This may cause a bone or muscular injury.

Myth: Epilepsy is contagious.
Fact: That is not true, this disease is not infectious in nature.

Myth: People with epilepsy cannot work
Fact: If a person has epilepsy, it does not mean they have an intellectual disability or are disabled. Most people with epilepsy are not disabled and are able to have successful careers in many different professions.

Epilepsy treatment at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital
Our Centre for Neurosciences offers a Comprehensive Epilepsy Care Programme to treat adults and children with epilepsy. The team is highly trained to help diagnose and treat newly diagnosed epilepsy patients, complex epilepsy cases as well as surgical cases. Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital is the first and only centre in Western India that provides state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities for epilepsy evaluation under one umbrella. The Centre for Neurosciences is equipped with high-end technology like the 3T Magnetom trio that is highly beneficial to investigate Epilepsy. We have also successfully performed over 150 epilepsy surgeries in the past. Our Support Group For Epilepsy meets regularly and addresses various medical social and professional issues for epilepsy patients and caregivers.

Do you or a loved one need Epilepsy care? Consult experts at our Centre for Neurosciences for multidisciplinary care. For more information please visit:

Cancer in India: A growing burden

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

India has the third-highest number of cancer cases in the world and it is estimated that 14 lakh new cancer cases were detected in 2020. These alarming statistics also suggest that 1 in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 15 will die of the disease. Adequate awareness and timely intervention is the need of the hour to help prevent deaths by cancer.

The Disease ‘cancer’ is generally associated with a sense of helplessness, frustration and fear of death. One of the important reasons for this is the misconception that cancer is incurable. While this may be true for certain cancers detected in advanced stages (Stage IV), those diagnosed in early stages and a few cancers even in advanced stages have a fairly good chance of survival. The incidence of cancer is on the rise due to a combination of factors such as changing lifestyles, dietary habits, lack of physical activity and increasing life expectancy. Tobacco abuse, in any form, is the most important cause and risk factor for many cancers – but importantly for cancer of the oral cavity, voice box, lungs and food pipe. Let us work together to strive for a cancer-free world with preventive measures, regular screening, and prompt and advanced cancer treatment.

Symptoms of Cancer
An early diagnosis is as important as prevention to get the best outcomes in cancer treatment. Being aware about cancer in is key to early diagnosis. Here are some of the warning signs of cancer that need further medical attention:

  • Cough or hoarseness that doesn’t go away
  • Blood in sputum, stools or urine
  • Inter menstrual and post menopausal bleeding
  • Lump in breast
  • Unusual lumps anywhere in the body that increase in size
  • Non-healing wound
  • Bleeding from gums
  • Frequent fever or infections
  • Excessive weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Intense and recurrent pain

Risk factors of Cancer
A cancer risk factor highly increases a person’s chance of getting cancer. It is important to know your risk factors and speak to your family doctor about them. General risk factors for cancer include:

  • Family history
  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Using tobacco
  • Certain viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Exposure to radiation or chemicals

Prevention of Cancer

At least one-third of the world’s cancer cases are preventable, make the right lifestyle choices to help reduce your risk of getting cancer:

  • Avoid use of all forms of tobacco
  • Say “No” to alcohol
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Protect your skin from ultraviolet rays
  • Get vaccinated against preventable infections
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and whole grains
  • Get regular health checkups

Screening  of Cancer
Regular cancer screening is advocated for early diagnosis and reducing the deaths from cancer in the following circumstances:

  • Breast cancer screening with monthly breast self examination, annual physical examination by a nurse or a physician and sono mammography after age of 45 years
  • Colonoscopy in people who are at high risk of cancer of large intestine
  • Low dose CT scan for smokers
  • Serum PSA for prostate cancer after crossing 50 years, post discussion with your urologist

Cancer treatment at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital
Highly trained oncologists at our Centre for Cancer help facilitate comprehensive cancer care using the most advanced technology. The team offers multidisciplinary care that includes screening, diagnosis, and treatment for cancer patients. It is our continued endeavour to ensure that each and every Indian has access to affordable and world-class cancer care.

To take the fight against cancer to the interiors of the country, Kokilaben Hospital has started Cancer care centres across Maharashtra under Reliance Hospital Cancer Care Centres and we plan to establish 18 cancer care centres across Maharashtra. The Akola, Gondia, and Solapur Reliance Cancer centres are now open and are equipped with the advanced TrueBeam® radiation therapy system.

The Centre for Cancer at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital offers a range of treatment options that include chemotherapy, radiation oncology, surgery, precision oncology, bone marrow transplant, robotic surgery, pain and palliative care as well as rehabilitation care. The team of experts has successfully performed over 12,298 complex cancer surgeries, 642 + complex surgeries for gynaecologic cancers as well as over 2199 breast cancer surgeries in the past. We also offer precision oncology that provides customized cancer care like never before. Our Centre for Cancer is well-equipped with state-of-the-art technology that includes:

  • Day care chemo suites
  • EDGE Radiosurgery system – Asia’s first equipment which enables precise, non-invasive treatments to help patients heal faster.
  • We are the first hospital in India to have Novalis TX machine, which performs high precision surgeries to remove deep-seated tumours.
  • We have the first Trilogy (linear accelerator) in India, which is capable of performing on-board CT scan, KV and MV imaging.

February 4th is marked as World Cancer Day, let us raise the awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.  If you or a loved one are a cancer fighter, do know that you are not alone in your fight! If you have any questions or need any assistance regarding cancer do visit:

About the Author:
Dr. Rajesh Mistry is Director, Oncology at Kokilaben Hospital specializing in Esophageal surgery: VATS and Robotic; Pulmonary surgery (Malignant and Benign): VATS and Robotic; Cancer of Thymus and other mediastinal masses; Chest wall tumours; Gastric Cancer; Head Neck Oncology. He holds a Fellowship in esophageal surgery at Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo under mentorship of Prof. H Akiyama. Find out more by visiting: