Hyderabad: Nobel Laureate Dr Ferid Murad was in town for a joint collaboration with Apollo Hospitals for research on the causes for high prevalence of heart disease among Indians and to suggest early detection ways and accurate treatment.
With 5.45 crore heart disease cases in India, there is a need to explore newer paths for early detection and treatment of heart ailments.
Dr Murad was conferred the Nobel prize in medicine in 1998 for his discovery that nitric oxide causes blood vessels to relax and improves blood circulation. This remarkable discovery changed the field of cardiology and established novel ways to reduce the risk of heart disease. His discovery has also helped to increase the survival rate, including those undergoing treatment for heart problems. Nitric oxide may benefit people with other medical problems such as cancer. Dr Murad’s discovery as a trailblazer is comparable to the discovery of penicillin. Excerpts from a conversation:
What are the research options in India?
It is important to explore newer pathways for early detection and accurate treatment of heart ailments. The genetic composition of Indians is different. There is also high cholesterol among those who are lean. This shows that there is a wider spectrum where a lot of work is required. This joint initiative will work towards finding newer methods to diagnose and treat.
Which age group is vulnerable and more prone in India?
It is the younger generation. We have come across such complaints from those in their 30s. This is very alarming.
To what extent can traditional medicine be blended with modern medication?
Alternative medicine, the natural extracts, has been there for hundreds of years and we know they are safe. But, with new chemicals we have to conduct studies on the safety aspects for which the government has to grant permission. Now, we are learning that natural extracts contain important molecules, which can be used on patients. There are many drugs that have originated from biochemistry and chemistry.
What are the differences between the problems that exist in India and west?
The food habits, sunshine, pollution, and air pollution. In some countries, industries emit coal smoke and some diesel smoke. Some countries don’t use fertilisers while some do for cultivation. We are learning that these are the aspects that influence genes.
Can you tell us what food habits will make us ill?
Fast food, which is very convenient. Teenagers simply cannot resist the temptation. The problem is that people are getting hooked on to fast foods without realising the damage it causes to the body. They are eating more but their energy expenditure is very less. There is too much of sitting now compared to earlier years. These changes in lifestyle are adding to the problems of heart.