Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Degenerative ailments: From heart trouble to early aging

One morning, the lift in an office building had broken down. In Sulistio's mind this was quite a disaster as it meant he had to take the stairs to his office on the third floor. Upon reaching the second floor, Sulistio, a lawyer in his mid-thirties, was struggling for breath and felt pain in his chest. Fortunately, after much effort, this obese young man eventually reached his desk.

Sulistio was suffering from coronary heart trouble, though this was not an acute attack. If he did not take immediate action to lose weight, such as joining an aerobic class and undertaking a weight-reduction program, his illness would certainly have become more serious.

Sulistio is not alone. Angina pectoris or chest pain as a result of coronary heart trouble affects millions of people around the world. In the United States alone, some 12 million people have been diagnosed as having coronary heart problems.

In Indonesia, despite the absence of national data on the prevalence of this illness, its impact is already visible. Cardiovascular diseases are now considered a primary cause of death in the country, registering 18.9 percent in the 1995 household health census. In the 2001 national health census, the figure climbed to 26.4 percent.

Heavy workloads cause stress, said cardiologist A. Fauzi Yahya. Stress, an unhealthy diet such as the regular consumption of fatty but low-fiber foods and infrequent exercise have the potential to cause a number of diseases, including coronary heart trouble.

Heart trouble is only one negative consequence of the above-mentioned lifestyle patterns. Stress and an unhealthy lifestyle can also affect a person's natural stamina and health and may cause various degenerative ailments such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cancer, stroke, hypertension and osteoporosis. Degenerative ailments are illnesses that interact with one another to impact negatively on the overall health of a person.

Degenerative ailments, also known as 'early aging', have been an increasing problem around the world throughout the last few decades. The risk factors associated with these ailments include an unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity and smoking. These three risk factors increase if a person consumes food with a high fat or sugar content and has a job that does not require much physical activity.

A report from the World Health Organization claims that some one billion people in the world are obese and it is estimated that this number will increase to over 1.5 billion people by 2015 unless immediate action is taken to overcome this problem. Hospitals offering services related to these "urban" diseases are always full of patients. There are a number of specialized hospitals in the city, such as RS Jantung Harapan Kita (Harapan Kita Cardiac Hospital).

Hospitals that adhere to international standards constantly strive to keep up with advancements in medical technology so as they can respond to illnesses such as coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes. Such hospitals also continue to improve their service to patients by embracing modern technology, which focuses on prompt responses, efficiency and comfort for patients.

Pondok Indah Hospital in South Jakarta has been using the non-invasive imaging method to detect cardiovascular diseases (CVD), using Multi detector Computed Tomography (MDCT) from one of the world's leading manufacturers. The MDCT method does not only assist cardiologists and radiographers to detect and diagnose CVDs, but also provides greater comfort to patents because the normal scan time of 20 seconds is reduced to less than five seconds.

This is also due to 5-Beat cardiac and Triple Rule Out technology, which means in 5 heart beats time the MDCT will be able to diagnose the three most life-threatening causes of acute chest pain in emergency situations: Coronary disease, pulmonary embolism or aortic dissection. "Using MDCT, diagnosing CVD is no longer a frightening experience for patients. The important thing is that it can provide highly accurate information regarding a patient's health," Dr. Adji L. Saptogino of Pondok Indah Hospital said.

Wide coverage Computed Tomography (CT) or Volume CT scanners use new diagnostic imaging technology called the multi detector CT, which in the case of Pondok Indah Hospital is a 64-detector CT. It enables the visualization of the heart and coronary arteries more clearly and accurately in a three-dimensional view. "It shows not only narrowed areas of blood vessel but also enables to us diagnose diseases at an early stage, hence preventive measures can be taken," he said.

At Pondok Indah Hospital, this non-invasive imaging method to detect CVDs by using MDCT is included in both the general and the special medical check-up packages in line with the hospital's motto of 'Prevention is better than cure.' In response to the growing trend of people in the middle and upper classes suffering from generative diseases, Pondok Indah Hospital offers medical check-up packages to assist in the early diagnosis of generative diseases so that measures can be taken to prevent such diseases from developing, Dr Adji said.

Meanwhile, everybody strives to look their best. Therefore, it is not surprising that clinics offering facial treatments that make people look younger have emerged in many places. There are many other varieties of specialized clinics, ranging from those offering Lasik eye surgery so that people can throw away their glasses to liposuction, skin smoothing, tooth repairs and face lifts.

Plastic surgery and botox injections are now popular in Jakarta. An injection of a liquid called botulinum toxin, or botox, minimizes wrinkles on the face. According to Dr Edwin Djuanda of Jakarta Skin Center, botox treatments are more practical than plastic surgery and the result is smoother facial skin. "Botox is injected in certain places to make the facial muscles more relaxed," he said.

Aside from the Jakarta Skin Center, a number of clinics in Jakarta also provide this service. These clinics include Senopati Skin Center, Birei Skin Clinic, Poppy Skin Care and Erha Clinic. Indeed, the demand for botox treatment is increasing. The treatment is sometimes referred to as the lunch-break face lift due to the short amount of time required for this treatment.

While previously appearance was the business of beauty parlors, today they have been replaced by clinics with sophisticated equipment and doctors specializing in beauty matters. Jakarta Skin Center, for example, provides services not only for skin care but also for beauty matters in general. Staffed with 14 doctors who are specialists in their fields, this clinic also provides dermatology treatments, venereaology facilities for skin problems, laser surgery for pigmentation, freeze surgery to remove warts, electric surgery for skin disorders and liposuction. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post
April 23, 2007

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