Dr Vishnukumar’s Tips For Good Vascular Health

In the world of high-flying professions, you won’t find many other unique personalities like Dr. Vishnukumar Venkateshan, a Consultant Vascular and Endovascular surgeon, now at VG Hospital and Ramakrishna Hospital Coimbatore, whose interest in the treatment of blood vessels motivated him into the fields of vascular surgery.
With a dearth of vascular surgeons in our country, Dr. Vishnukumar talks about the various vascular therapies and the need to create more awareness in the field.
What is the difference between a cardiac surgeon and a vascular surgeon?
Before the advent of vascular surgery, diseases of the upper and lower limbs were managed by cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons. To explain the difference, cardiac surgeon deals with the heart and the lungs. Whereas a vascular surgeon deals with all the blood vessels in the body – other than the heart and the brain. Hence, we deal with diseases of arteries and veins going to the legs, hands, stomach or kidneysjust to give an example. If there is any block or any issue in any of these arteries, we help remove and cure them. Also, we as vascular surgeons, are uniquely trained in both surgical as well as endovascular treatment. Normally acoronary Angioplasty is done by a cardiologist and the coronary bypass is done by a cardiac surgeon. But in vascular sector, we are trained to do both peripheral angioplasty as well as peripheral bypass. The field of vascular surgery is relatively new with advances in the field only in the last 3 decades. In fact, the demand for vascular surgeons in India is quite high compared to cardiac surgeons.
What are varicose vein problems? Do you help treat them?
Varicose veins are the most commonly treated problem in vascular surgery. Basically, it is a disorder of the veins of your lower limb. Such a problem occurs by the non-functioning valves in our veins. When the blood from your heart goes to your limbs, a certain amount of pressure is inculcated to reach the limbsby the pumping mechanism of the heart. Now, for the blood to come back from the limbs to heart, it has to travel against gravity. Hence, there many one-way valves inside the vein to make sure the blood goes up and doesn’t fall back down. But sometimes when those valves don’t function, the blood tends to stagnate in the legs. The more it continues, you get symptoms akin to swelling or twisted veins on your legs. It is not a life-threatening limb problem but in the advanced stages, you can get discoloration or even an ulcer.
Varicose veins are seen only in humans and not in animals because we are the only species that walk on two legs. And that is why it is commonly seen in people who stand for a longer time like policemen, doctors, shopkeepers, and in women (post-pregnancy).
Is surgery important to resolve varicose vein problems?
Being a pure mechanical problem, there are no medicines or injections suggested to make it work again, so the only way is to surgical remove the vein that is causing the stagnation. Previously, we used to remove them by making a small incision. But nowadays, with the advancement in technology, a minimal invasive procedure – a laser ablation (putting a needle inside the vein and passing the laser fiber inside these veins and ablating them is the commonly preferred approach .
What are other vascular problems people face? And when should they consult you?
Apart from varicose veins, some people get Gangrene (black dislocation on fingers caused due to block in blood supply). This is commonly caused due to Diabetes, Hypertension and smoking. And this if left untreated or unattended can lead to amputation. So, it is essential for anybody to reach out to a vascular surgery to save their limbs. Because delayed diagnosis has caused many people to lose their limbs.
Can COVID result in vascular diseases? How are they interconnected?
Frankly, we are discovering newer things about COVID every day. So, nobody has figured out the complete disease spectrum that coronavirus can cause in our body. COVID has the ability to cause clot in blood vessels. These clots can happen anywhere. If it is in heart, it can lead to heart attack. If it is in brain, it can lead to stroke. In case of clot in blood vessels, it will cut out the blood supply to your arms and legs. And in the past 6 months, I have seen 5 to 6 cases of such blood clots. Hence, as part of our treatment protocol for high risk patients, we put them on blood thinners (types of medicines) to make sure these vessels don’t accidently develop clots inside the body.
Is COVISHIELD and COVAXIN safe? What is your take on it?
I got vaccinated at our very own GH hospital in Coimbatore and I am completely fine. Both the vaccines have passed Phase II trials which means both are safe. I feel all health care workers must come forward to get themselves vaccinated to show how secure it is.
Also, it is important not to spread false theories or discussions about the vaccine. Any medicine or vaccine has an incidence of a side-effect. If you are allergic to COVISHIELD or COVAXIN vaccine, you might as well be allergic to any vaccine or have other known allergies. Also, as per Government protocol, they observe you for 30 min after getting the shot to attend to any allergic reaction.
Tips for a good vascular health?
The concept of a good vascular lifestyle is similar to a good cardiac lifestyle. Cholesterol causes your arteries to get blocked. So, to reduce the risk, intake of whatever causes your cholesterol to rise like high fatty diet, oil fried foods, high sugar content and processed food must be controlled. Fish can be included to your diet and red meats can be avoided. Smoking is also associated with increased cardiovascular risk and should be avoided at all costs. Apart from that, regular exercise (at least 30 min walk per day) is required because exercises can reduce the risk of cardio vascular diseases by almost 35-40%. For appointments contact Ramakrishna Hospital @ 0422-4500000 and VG Hospital @ 0422-4226777.
—Grishma Raj

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