Join the mailing list

Click here to read our privacy policy


Subscribe to emel's RSS Feed Subscribe to emel's RSS Feed


Body As Amanah: Heart Disease Will Go On

Body As Amanah: Heart Disease Will Go On

Issue 1 Sept / Oct 2003

Ischaemic heart disease is a big killer among men and women born in the Indian sub-continent. Dr Ashike Choudhary follows the progress of one such patient.

Naeem was 38 years old when he noticed changes in his health. He was born in what is now Bangladesh and came to England in 1971. He is a Muslim with a wife and two sons.

 In 1986, he started noticing that he got tired and short of breath on increasingly limited amounts of activity. He also experienced an uncomfortable feeling in his chest, which would ease off with rest. His family recall even now that he lost his physical drive and would spend more and more time in bed. Given how quickly the symptoms came on and his relatively young age, angina was not diagnosed straight away. As someone who had never been ill or even consulted a doctor, he considered himself fit and healthy. However, he had become a heavy smoker after taking up a stressful job with a firm of accountants. At one time he had enjoyed playing tennis, but found it hard to make the time to continue this exercise. As is still common in asian culture, healthy prosperous eating meant red meat, liberal use of ghee and plenty of sugar in his tea.

 Angina is the chest pain due to Ischaemic Heart Disease. The heart pumps oxygen in the blood around the whole body including the brain, kidneys, limbs and even to itself. Angina indicates that the heart itself is not getting enough oxygen to do the work it is being asked to do. Understanding why he was getting the chest pain was a shock and Naeem had to learn quickly about how to improve the care of his heart. He learnt that smoking was damaging the blood vessels and making the problem worse. In addition, high levels of cholesterol were leading to narrowing of the blood vessels providing oxygen to his heart. Cholesterol is a chemical containing different forms of fat. Some types of cholesterol are important and necessary in the body and others are harmful.

 In his case, he also needed medication to help reduce the workload of the heart. To his dismay, he discovered he would also need an operation. This is where his faith played a role in accepting what lay ahead of him. The cardiology (heart specialist) doctors told him that the risks of the operation - a coronary artery bypass graft - were less than leaving the disease to progress. Naeem was able to accept that death might lie ahead and felt that this was a heaven-sent opportunity to repair the damage done to his heart. Faith and belief helped him deal with the frightening implications of open heart surgery and the six months of rehabilitation. Naeem was sure that God was responsible for the space that became available on the NHS list and the provision of expertise to treat him.

 Naeem gave up smoking and improved his diet. A successful operation and hard work rehabilitating himself meant he returned to work within the year. He incorporated regular exercise once more into his life. As he got older, even walking to the underground station rather than driving would help him control his weight and keep himself more physically fit. He also drew comfort from the community orientated work he undertook and he encouraged his sons to take heed of his experiences in their lifestyles.

 Ischaemic heart disease is the main cause of death in developed countries. It becomes more common as people get older and is seen more in men, and in women after the menopause. It runs in families.

 In a time and land of Plenty, we must learn to curb our excesses and be disciplined in our physical health as well as our spiritual being. God willing, Ischaemic Heart Disease will not go on.


 If this article raises concerns or questions, then make an appointment to see your GP. He or she will be happy to allay your fears or undertake further investigations.



image: Maeve Tomlinson

Bookmark this

Add to DIGG
Add to
Stumble this
Share on Facebook

Share this

Send to a Friend
Link to this

Printer Friendly

Print in plain text




Leave a comment


Sign in or Register to leave a comment