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DT Health: Beware of diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eye and is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina which is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. It is one of the leading causes of visual loss and blindness in diabetics.

DT Health: Beware of diabetic retinopathy
Representative Image


The risk factors are the long duration of diabetes, poor control of blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and pregnancy.

Symptoms: The initial stages do not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses, blurred vision, spots floating in vision, dark or empty areas of vision, sudden visual loss can occur. When the disease is mild to moderate it is called Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) and the advanced stage is called Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR). In the NPDR stage, blood vessels of the retina become weak and start leaking fluid and blood into the retina. When fluid into the central portion of the retina, called the macula, the patient can suffer a sudden loss of vision. 

In advanced stages, blood vessels get blocked and in an attempt to restore lost blood supply, the eye forms new blood vessels. These vessels are very fragile, easily leak fluid and blood into the retina as well as into the vitreous a jelly-like substance that fills the centre of the eyeball. 

Treatment: The laser can be done for damaged vessels. If swelling in the retina is observed, monthly intravitreal anti-VEGF injections are given in the eye till it reduces. In advanced stages, surgeries are performed. The risk of developing retinopathy can be reduced by following certain lifestyle modifications like maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, taking regular medications, frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels, stopping smoking, and keeping BP, Cholesterol under control.

'Early diagnosis, holistic stance can help one avoid heart failure'

The rise in cardiovascular diseases in India reflects in the number of cases received by city hospitals these days. Experts say over 40 percent of the people in the country below the age of 55 experience heart attack. One out of four such cases eventually develops heart failure within four years. When the pumping capacity of the heart, especially the left ventricle is more than 60%, it is consider normal. Whereas a capacity at 45-50% is moderate and lesser that 30% is a severe condition of heart failure. Dr R Ravi Kumar, MD DM Sr Cardiologist HF and Heart Transplant, MGM Hospital said people tend to confuse heart failure with heart attack. 

"Heart attack is a significant risk factor for heart failure. In our hospital, we see around 8% heart failure patients every month whose disease onset was due to a heart attack. Additionally, we also find 25-30% of heart failure cases with a history of one or multiple heart attacks/angioplasty, also know an Ischemic Cardiomyopathy. However, heart failure is not the end of the road and can be managed effectively with early diagnosis and holistic management." said Dr Ravi. 

However, a healthy lifestyle with a combination of medication and dietary changes will help in heart failure management along with treatment adherence. Lifestyle modification including regular exercise, eating a balanced diet with limited salt and water intake, smoking cessation can also help in holistic management of the condition.

"One of the common misconceptions is the heart failures cannot be treated. The treatments are provided based on the underlying reason - improving blood supply through angioplasty stenting or a bypass surgery; strengthening of heart muscles through medication; improving the heart rhythm through special pacemakers. When the above three conditions are not improved then it reaches end-stage heart failure where a transplant will be required," said Dr Anantharaman, Senior Consultant Cardiologist and Lead for Heart Failure and Transplantation, Kauvery Hospital Chennai. 

"When one suffers breathlessness, chest pain, erratic blood pressure and palpitation he/she should immediately get an ECG or ECHO Cardiogram done along with cardiology consultation," he added

Ask your Doctor

How can cardiovascular diseases be prevented? - R Vishnu, Manali

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of human death irrespective of age and region. A high rate of morbidity, mortality and disability is associated with cardiovascular diseases. Preventive strategies which include a healthy diet and lifestyle can help combat cardiovascular diseases in a big way. The Covid-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to the health care sector. Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, but it can cause inflammation of the blood vessels and the heart muscle. Thus, people with comorbid conditions and underlying heart ailments are at a much higher risk for infection and ultimately a negative impact on their cardiovascular health. 

-Dr Vivek Muthukumarasamy, Consultant, Interventional Cardiologist, Dr Mehta's Hospital

How Important is the consumption of Vitamin C for Fighting infection? - Shruti K, Alwarpet

All toxins that cause toxic damage via increased oxidative stress can be considered pro-oxidants. The electron-taking ability of the pro-oxidant is neutralised by Vitamin C and it can be considered the antitoxin for any toxin that is damaging the body. Vitamin C has been proven to be effective against all toxins tested. It enables good immunity by giving the body the ability to ward off infections. 

- Dr Manickam Mahalingam, Founder, Miracle Wellness Clinic

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