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How does underlying Cirrhosis influence Covid-19?

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Experts recommend treatment and follow-up care for people with chronic liver disease.

Chronic liver diseases are common worldwide, especially in developing countries. The rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)/(COVID-19) leads to the infection of many patients with underlying chronic liver diseases. To discuss about the same, we interviewed Dr. Shiv Kumar Sarin, Director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS); Dr. Anil Arora, Chairman, Institute Of Liver Gastroenterology & Pancreatico Biliary Sciences Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Dr. Kaushal Madaan, principal director and head of Hepatology from Max chain of hospitals.

Question: Since there is a lot fear among people as far as Covid is concerned, how should a liver patient, someone who perhaps has fatty liver, liver cirrhosis, how should they go about their regular checkups? Should they visit hospitals? Should they consult you all over? What are they supposed to do?

Dr. Sarin: First of all we should know that liver is located on the right side of the body and weighs a kilogram and a half. It is one of the largest organs in the human body. If you put a lot of stuff on the liver, then it is not a healthy liver. If there is extra fat for too long, the liver will shrink and it may become fibrous, discard and late stages of cirrhosis.

Question: Those who already perhaps have these diseases, they also have a lot of apprehensions as far as their regular checkups are concerned, because that’s also extremely important for them. Should they skip it as of now, should they visit hospitals, or should they stick to video consultation? What would be your advice to those who already have liver diseases, but perhaps don’t have Covid, have an anxiety or fear of Covid in the back of their mind.

Dr. Sarin: Those who have fatty liver certainly are not having the disease. Fatty liver itself is just extra fat. But if somebody has cirrhosis and he knows somebody who has got alcohol liver injury or has cancer, they all require treatment and monitoring. So don’t put it away. Treatment for all liver diseases must be given and should not be delayed. Treatment is essential whether you use a teleconsult or go to the hospital. What you can do at home is, of course, continue your own diet and the prescription that the doctor has given.

Question: We all know that because of the fear of Covid, there is a lot of concoction of medicines which many of us are consuming already. There are alternate medications that many people are taking. There were reports that Giloy could cause some liver damage, then later there were reports no it doesn’t do that.

What would be your stand on this alternative medication when it comes to avoiding Coronavirus or just taking these medications as a precaution?

Dr. Arora: Liver is an organ that does not require any servicing, does not require any maintenance till you intentionally or accidentally try to injure it. You do not need any medication. You do not need a specific diet. You do not need any type of maintenance, but do everything to prevent the damage.

Two major reasons why the liver gets damaged is, if you are having too much of the calories in the diet, so initially it gets deposited in the peripheral tissue that is subcutaneous tissue, and once those stores get exhausted, it tends to get into the vital organs. The liver is a central organ for the metabolism, production and synthesis of various proteins, and integrated metabolism of fat, carbohydrates as well as proteins. It also is known to produce a number of coagulation and anticoagulation factors.

In fact, there have been excellent guidelines from CDC, from our own ICMR and the Government of India and AIIMS, which tell us that we need minimum medication. Even allopathic medicines are needed in minimum doses for a minimum duration of time. They will do more harm than good. Especially all chemicals, all ingestions, all food has to be metabolized through the liver. So anything and everything that you are taking for any purpose you have to take under the guidance of a registered medical practitioner, take it for a minimum period of time, at a minimum dose, for a minimum duration. Never self-medicate yourself.

Question: But I specifically mentioned giloy because there is a lot of debate around it. And also it’s not just giloy, but a lot of as I said ayurvedic, alternative medication which people are taking. Dr. Kaushal, would you also perhaps tell your patients to stay off this concoction of alternative medicine, medicine that claim to be herbal and perhaps give you better immunity against Coronavirus?

Dr. Kaushal: These herbal and alternative medicines, even before this pandemic of Covid started, we have been advising our patients, whether or not they have underlying liver disease, to avoid taking herbal medicines of whose ingredients we are not sure of. When this pandemic came, we realised that there were many patients who were coming into us with unexplained liver failure and liver injury and some of them had even died. Only after a few months, we realised that they were taking a concoction and the most common ingredient of that concoction in these particular patients was Giloy. In fact, you would have recently seen a publication published in an indexed journal that presented about five or six cases similar to what I have been talking about and I think all of us would have seen such cases. See, how we make a diagnosis is by the exclusion of all other possibilities. We could not find any cause and only this thing stood apart, as patients were using kadhas… I don’t know what kind of mixtures they were having, what kind of concoctions… Two times a day, three times a day, for almost a year they were having it and they landed up with liver injuries. So I definitely think that these are the culprits in such cases.

Question: Could it also affect a healthy patient, someone who has a healthy liver and they start to take alternate medication? What would be your advice to them?

Dr. Sarin: Any medicine whether allopathic, homoeopathic or ayurvedic or preparation can be harmful or beneficial. I do not know much about the homeopathic or allopathic medicines. I can certainly say that there are certain herbs that can be harmful. No medicine should be consumed without a scientifically proven safety.

Secondly, a healthy liver is a necessity for better immunity. As far as covid is concerned, the infection initially transits to the lungs and then to the liver where it finally settles. This is called bystander hepatitis. Bystander implies that whatever Corona does, harm to the liver is possible.  has severe Covid, he will have something like 70% of them will have liver enzymes being normal. In mild Covid, 10-20% will be having liver enzymes normal. Food can injure the liver, drugs which are taken, preparations that are taken, all can cause injury to the liver.

Question: Talking of drugs, there were reports that azithromycin, remdesivir, those drugs could also affect the liver, but they were widely prescribed by physicians. What would you say to liver patients? Should they stay off these drugs? And those who get serious, perhaps their families are told to administer remdesivir. What are they supposed to do then?

Dr. Sarin: So, remdesiver cannot be given to patients with liver disease. Secondly, it is not proven beneficial. So I would be very hesitant to give. Azithromycin can also give liver injury. In fact, there is no reason to give these drugs if the patient has pre-existing liver diseases. If you have read some very interesting Lancet papers, Corona was more serious in those patients who had a BMI of about 25. In India, nearly 30%, one in three people have a high BMI, they all have fatty liver. So, the disease is more common, more susceptible, injury is more progressive and liver injury enzymes being abnormal or very high. Secondly, if somebody is also mixing alcohol with Corona pills and ppl were staying home, they were drinking.

Question: Dr. Arora, I know a lot of patients, not liver patients but younger ones who are comorbid, have diabetes etc. The day they recovered, the first question they have in mind is that can I have a drink now? What would you say to those who have liver diseases, perhaps got Corona, have recovered and are craving a drink?


Dr. Arora: See drinking as a habit, when it is harmful for you, it is not recommended. If you look at our baseline population, which has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease coupled with so many metabolic abnormalities like diabetes, hypertension, these are all the risk factors that will aggravate the injury related to alcohol. Once in a while, socializing is understandable, but the problem is that alcohol is an addictive agent. If you look at the data from the US, the maximum number of cases that are being reported after cure from hepatitis is related to alcohol.

This is something that is absolutely preventable. Not only on its own it causes problems, but in patients with underlying fatty liver or those with hepatitis B or C, this alcohol is an added synergistic effect to cause further liver damage. So, unless you are sure that there is nothing wrong, you should avoid alcohol.

Question: Does Covid affect them more severely if they have liver cirrhosis? And what about those who have had a liver transplant?

Dr. Kaushal: There is ample data to suggest that patients who have fatty liver disease have a very severe lung disease when they acquire Covid. They have very poor outcomes and more of them end up in the ICU, end up with ventilatory support. Patients who are just at the stage of waiting for a transplant, are the ones who have advanced liver diseases. So, obviously, if they acquire Covid-19, they are at high risk of dying. If they have a new liver, they already are immunosuppressed. Some schools of thought say that since they are already immunossuppressed, they’re not able to mount an immunoinflammatory response to Covid so they may have mild disease. But this is a controversial issue and more and more data is coming in.

Question: Is the severity or risk of Covid a lot more once they catch it? Secondly, is the treatment for them different? Is it special treatment or they take the same medication as the general population who catches the virus? And if someone has liver disease, generally when people catch Covid, they go to general physicians. Should they also consult their liver doctor in the loop about the medications they are taking?

Dr, Sarin: If the transplant was done within the last three months, corona can be very severe, and you should act quickly. People who are on heavy immunosuppressants have rejections even after a year, and if they get a corona infection, there is a problem again. Corona does not make people worse, but they are already predisposed to other illnesses.

Liver is the root cause of diabetes and blood pressure and high triglycerides. If you have fatty liver or is obese, diabetic, is comorbid, he must look at the liver enzymes. Covid gives you all a chance to lose weight. Become healthy, lean and thin, so that unfortunately, if the third wave comes, you are strong, your liver is strong and your body is strong.

Question: What about liver patients? Once they recover, what is the post-Covid care that they need? What are the tests which are required and why would you say they shouldn’t throw caution to the wind? Perhaps why would you say that those who have liver diseases have recovered from Covid should still be cautious and should still measure their parameters? 

Dr. Arora: All those who suffer from Covid are likely to come down with something called ‘Long Covid’ There is a multitude of reasons for that. You may have a bit of virus or the immune process which may still be simmering around the body. Or you may have an immune complex disease that may be present or activation of the immune system. Now coming back to the liver, in patients with liver disease, if you have a concomitant Covid, you may have multiple reasons why the liver can get affected. It may occur because of the hyperinflammatory syndrome which comes out from the lungs and gets disseminated in the body, of which the liver gets the major share of the blood.

A number of drugs that are given to treat Covid have indirect toxicity on the liver. If you have had a recent infection, you are likely to come down with more complications. You have to regularly follow up with a liver specialist if you have underlying liver disease.

Question: what would you tell all your patients, should they go, and get vaccinated at the earliest? Perhaps it is these patients who already are susceptible, who already have compromised immunity, who need to get vaccinated at the earliest.

Dr. Kaushal: I totally agree. I feel that there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy, especially in patients who have comorbidities. Since they have an underlying disease, they have anxiety that whether the vaccine will suit them or not or whether it is going to cause harm to them. So we keep getting phone calls and patients want to ask one thing that should we get vaccinated? So answer for all of that is whether they have early liver disease or advanced liver disease, they are best in a vaccinated state. So they should all get vaccinated, whichever stage of liver they are in. Because if they don’t take and if they have advanced liver disease and if they catch the infection then definitely the outcomes are going to be worse. So one-line answer is that any patient who has any kind of liver disease must take a vaccine.

Question:  What is the post-Covid care? I would like to ask you also this question because a lot of people seem to be ignoring that.

Dr. Sarin: First, patients with liver disease have weak muscles. We call it sarcopenia. Even if they are obese, they have very limited muscle power. If your liver is weak, your muscles are also weak and after Covid there is extreme fatigue, loss of appetite. You have to work extra, be more careful about this, and get your antibodies done if you need them.

The second important thing for a patient with cirrhosis after Covid is gone is to remember that the liver can digest more fats than it can digest pure carbohydrates. So just avoid carbs. Your main diet should remain protein-based, good whey protein or something and then next, the energy source can be fat. But yes exercises are very essential. It’s very difficult for patients who have got cirrhosis and Covid.

Question: A question that comes to the mind of liver patients is that they already have compromised immunity, they may not have enough antibodies. So, is the vaccine even good enough for me? What if I don’t end up making antibodies?

Dr. Arora: If you look at the various registration trial which was conducted in both US and UK, the initial registration trial excluded patients who had chronic liver diseases or those with an immunocompromised state. In fact, there is data published on Pfizer’s registration trial which has shown that in patients who have advanced liver disease and those who had undergone liver transplantation, the chance of development of antibodies is only 20%. So not all those with the immunocompromised state will develop antibodies. All patients who have an immunocompromised state will not produce antibodies. But in case you have developed antibodies and you can be more confident that you won’t have the viral infection, do not be under the wrong impression that you have been protected. If you do not have antibodies even after vaccination, you have to be extra careful. You have to use double the precaution which a normal person uses. You just cannot move out to public places. You must be extra cautious.

Question: As we conclude what will be your one message to all the liver patients, all those who are suffering from liver diseases, one as far as prevention is concerned and two, in case they get Covid?

Dr. Kaushal: So I think in terms of prevention, I think everyone knows in the last one and a half years what they have to do in order to prevent getting Covid, that is masking, social distancing and washing hands. So that is one message which is true even for patients who have underlying liver disease. Second, they should not fear. Patients who have the early liver disease may not fear. They will have outcomes that are similar to the normal population. Only, those patients who have advanced liver disease, advanced fatty liver, obese, diabetic and post-transplant patients are the ones who need to fear and therefore need to take more precautions and they should get vaccinated as early as possible. And they should avoid like we said the herbal and these kinds of concoctions which contain unscientific mixtures of medicines that might harm the liver. So these are my messages.

Question: What would you say to assuage the fear of perhaps those who already have liver diseases and generally have a fear of Covid? We were speaking earlier of transplant as well, should perhaps people keep such procedures at bay or go ahead with them?

Dr. Sarin: Well the first message for those who do not have liver diseases is to reboot yourself. Lose weight, be careful. Only a healthy body will sustain the onslaught of any Covid infection. So be ready and be healthy. For those who have liver disease, be extra cautious. Transplants are going on and in fact, nearly a hundred have been done during the Covid era at ILBS and I’m sure at many many other centres. So please if you need a transplant, you should go, get yourself transplanted. But yes those who are not… one in a hundred gets a transplant, all other patients, 99 out 100 please be careful. Be in touch with your doctors and specialists. Do not miss your drugs and get your regular screening done. Must get vaccinated for Covid and do not let your guards down. Have Covid appropriate behaviour. You will live normally and you will pass through this Covid. Don’t be worried. But be careful, don’t make a mistake. 

Question: as far as Covid is concerned, we were speaking of course in extensive detail about managing your liver diseases, preventing Covid. Final question for those who have liver diseases, should they continue the medication which they were taking earlier or should they halt at a time when they have Covid and perhaps are taking Covid medication coz there is a lot of confusion amongst the laymen on the same?

Dr. Arora: Ya. I think almost all medication that is necessary for the management of liver diseases can be continued under the supervision of a trained doctor. That goes without saying. We have very few active Covid cases now and I am sure that doctors are good enough to know what sort of combination is safe for them. Coming on to the message that I have to give. Starting with what Dr. Sarin said about the liver on the right side, I think you should always listen to your heart. The heart is always on the left side but it is always right. So if you have learnt any lesson during this devilish perfidious second wave which has killed millions of people. If you have learnt something then have some civility, behave properly, get vaccinated and do not just move out of the house. You should remember till everybody is safe, you cannot be safe. The whole world has to get vaccinated before you can lower your guard. So listen to your heart if you have understood something from this devilish virus.

One clear message coming from all the doctors collectively here is that prevention is better than cure. Stay home. It gains all the more significance considering we have those viral pictures of people holidaying in Manali. Don’t do that. We have these doctors who are working a lot for us. Let’s keep ourselves safe.

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Medically Speaking

INDIAN RESUSCITATION COUNCIL

The motto of Indian Resuscitation council is to make Every Citizen a Life saver. We postulated the technic of Compression only Life Support (COLS) where a layperson can perform Cardiopulmonary resuscitation with his two hands outside the hospital and even useful for the Army personal.

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the most leading cause of preventable deaths in India. It can occur to any person rich or poor, anywhere, even without any pre-existing cardiac diseases. Many important dignitaries of the Nation have succumbed sudden Cardiac Arrest. The incidence is more than covid-19.

Less than 2% of the population in India are aware of CPR. Most of the victims unattended or treated by local methods of superstitions. About 4280 people per one lakh population are prone to Sudden Cardiac Arrest every year and nearly 90% succumbed to death.  The Sudden Cardiac Arrest the cause for 59,064,000 preventable deaths in a year in India. And 161,819 per day, ie 6742people get Sudden Cardiac Arrest in an hour. India is a poor country with very meager per capita income and can’t afford an expensive training.

1.38 billion population in India. A sort of Indian guidelines and trainings is a must. Indian Resuscitation Guidelines will give confidence in all medical fraternity and among people, will save life’s, bring unity among organization. They need training in the local languages.

Indian Society of Anaesthesiologists has convened a meeting on 16th April 2017 at Hyderabad inviting many people involved in CPR in India. Indian Society of Anaesthesiologists, Indian society to study pain, Research society of Anaesthesiology and clinical pharmacology, Indian association of Cardiothoracic Anaesthesiologists, Indian Medical Association, Dr. NTR University of Heath Sciences, Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, Association of Obstetric Anesthesia, UP Rural Institute of Medical University, Indian Association of Pediatric anesthesia , GVK EMRI, 108, Indian society of perinatology and reproductive biology, Indian College of Anaesthesiologists, and some members of Emergency medicine from different cities. It is resolved that India should have its own guidelines of resuscitation, as we do not have proper emergency medical system, equipped Ambulances, AEDs. We have different cultures, languages, customs, religions, inaccessible areas and superstitions. We studied the available literature available on similar circumstances around the world, less effluent countries and brought out the guidelines, and published in a PubMed Indexed journal after peer reviewing. Thus, a MAKE IN INDIA guidelines prepared to serve Indians.

  • Ahmed SM, Garg R, Divatia JV, Rao SC, Mishra BB, Kalandoor M V, Kapoor MC, Singh B. Compression-only life support (COLS) for cardiopulmonary resuscitation by layperson outside the hospital. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 12];61:867-73. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2017/61/11/867/218099
  • Garg R, Ahmed SM, Kapoor MC, Mishra BB, Rao SC, Kalandoor M V, Divatia JV, Singh B. Basic cardiopulmonary life support (BCLS) for cardiopulmonary resuscitation by trained paramedics and medics outside the hospital. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 12];61:874-82. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2017/61/11/874/218100
  • Garg R, Ahmed SM, Kapoor MC, Rao SC, Mishra BB, Kalandoor M V, Singh B, Divatia JV. Comprehensive cardiopulmonary life support (CCLS) for cardiopulmonary resuscitation by trained paramedics and medics inside the hospital. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 12];61:883-94. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2017/61/11/883/218102
  • Singh B, Garg R, Chakra Rao S S, Ahmed SM, Divatia J V, Ramakrishnan T V, Mehdiratta L, Joshi M, Malhotra N, Bajwa SJ. Indian resuscitation council (IRC) suggested guidelines for comprehensive cardiopulmonary life support (CCLS) for suspected or confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jul 12];64, Suppl S2:91-6. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2020/64/14/91/284914

The motto of Indian Resuscitation council is to make Every Citizen a Lifesaver

Train your neighbors and save yourself

Your two hands can save lives

We postulated the technic of Compression only Life Support (COLS) where a layperson can perform Cardiopulmonary resuscitation with his two hands outside the hospital and even useful for the Army personal.

We have many challenges ahead, to make Every Citizen A LifeSaver

13 million school children every year need to training Basic cardiopulmonary life support (BCLS)

83,000 medical students need mandatory certificate in Basic Cardiopulmonary life support and Comprehensive cardiac life support (CCLS)

200,000 nurses need of certify every year in BCLS and CCLS across nation

Only 1 % out of cardiac arrest attempt was done in India vs 40% in western countries.

We Indian Resuscitation Council established in 2017 participated in WRAH Day and trained school children and laymen.

Over 675,000 lay people trained in

cardiopulmonary resuscitation

worldwide — The “World Restart a Heart

(WRAH)” initiative 2018

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

Resuscitation journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/resuscitation

The Indian Resuscitation Council, members of the Indian Society of Anaesthesiologists, and other professional, societies performed nationwide CPR training of laypeople in high schools, colleges, bus stations, railway stations, police stations, company offices, and other public places. At least 30 federal states of India participated and many

Chief Ministers and Health Ministers were actively involved. Overall, 225,000 people were trained in India for WRAH 2018.

Up to 206 million People Reached and Over 5.4 million Trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Worldwide: The 2019 International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation World Restart a Heart Initiative

INDIA IRC/ ISA : No trained in COLS are 500,268 , in 2019,

Vice President of India Sri Venkaiah Naidu released in BCLS manual in November 2018.

Vice President of India Sri Venkaiah Naidu released the CCLS manual in July 2019.

2020 March Covid19 has slowed down our progress.

Since 2018, IRC is attending all the bimonthly meetings of WRAH Day. Demonstrated CPR in Heritage sites, prepared songs, skits on CPR, in different languages including Urdu and Kashmiri.

Released 1st day envelop and stamp on the occasion of WEAH Day on 16th October 2020, by the Andhra Pradesh State Minister, Member of the Parliament and the Member of Legislative Assembly, in the virtual presence of WRAH Day, AAPI and ISA dignitaries.

COLS basic CPR guidelines are included in 12th grade nationwide school’s syllabus in July 2021

-Mandatory Certification of Basic cardiopulmonary life support before graduation in state of Andhra Pradesh by Dr NTR University of Health Sciences, Andhra Pradesh of 50 million population,6000 medical student graduated,

National Medical commission has introduced a foundation course for the newly admitted students of MBBS and they have incorporated BCLS for them

Establishing IRC Resuscitation Training centers in medical colleges across country

Training of trainers (TOT) across country is going on every two months. A separate dedicated training started for all the hospital staff with National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Health care providers (NABH) (like joint council of hospitals). NABH certifying body of 30,000 private and thousands of govt hospital, who has mandatory certification for BCLS to all Doctors, nurse and paramedics working from front office to the high dependency areas

Providing affordable courses through IRC part of ILCOR will have more support and on an international platform as health is global.

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Learn CPR and Save Life- Must for every citizen

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We must have heard or seen situations like “A 50-year-old man jogging in the park. He suddenly collapses and people in the park surround him” Or “Oh ! he was well last night, I have talked to him, but expired suddenly in the early morning” And we keep wondering what could be the reason!!

Every year, about 4,280 out of one lakh victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) die in India. Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart stops its function of pumping blood to the whole body leading to the cessation of heartbeat and breathing. The terms cardiac arrest and heart attack are often used interchangeably, but these are two different conditions. A heart attack occurs when an artery is blocked due to fat and cholesterol deposition and prevents blood from reaching the heart muscle causing severe chest pain and breathing difficulty. Whereas cardiac arrest often occurs suddenly without any warning due to disturbance in the electrical activity of the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) which disrupts the heart’s ability to pump blood to the brain, lungs, and other vital organs. Disturbance in the electrical activity of the heart leading to cardiac arrest can be due to any of the following reasons: diabetes, hypertension, lungs, liver and kidneys diseases, etc. However, it can happen to anybody at any point in time. Within few minutes of cardiac arrest, the victim becomes unconscious and death occurs within minutes if the victim didn’t receive treatment. It has been observed that “ Every minute’s delay in the resuscitation of the cardiac arrest victim reduces the chance of survival by 7-10%”. So a prompt action can save the person’s life with cardiac arrest.

India is a vast country with lots of diversity, differences in culture, language, religions, customs, atmosphere, socio-economic issues, and differences in terrain. The environment and the infrastructure for resuscitation of a person with sudden cardiac arrest vary from place to place. So there was a need for a structured guideline to be followed for resuscitation of cardiac arrested victims. Moreover, the approach should be such that it is applicable at all scenarios and remains scientifically valid. There is a large body of evidence to show that it is possible to save the victims of SCA with immediate high-quality bystander hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – Compression only life support (COLS)

Compression only life support (COLS) are the guidelines developed by the Indian Resuscitation Council for providing only chest compressions in a stepwise algorithmic approach by a layperson for the cardiac arrest victims till the time medical help arrives

The timely management of the victim with cardiopulmonary arrest is paramount. It may not be possible to provide immediate medical care by the trained person when the victim is outside the hospital. The inclusion of common man after their proper training would be beneficial to improve the outcome of the victim. However, the medical steps to be taught to a layperson should be kept simple and easy to follow, and yet evidence-based.

Learning the skill of saving one’s life is may not be easy. But it is equally not easy to ignore someone dying unattended. Let us all try and make a world where no one dies from cardiac arrest. The Compression only Life Support (COLS) provides an easy, algorithmic stepwise approach for resuscitation of the victim with cardiopulmonary arrest by the lay person. To save one’s life, you should know various steps of COLS-Compression Only Life Support.

  1. Ensure Scene safety
  2. Victim’s response check
  3. Call for help and emergency medical system
  4. Early and effective chest compression
  5. Transfer to the health facility

The main activity of Compression-Only Life Support (COLS) is effective chest compression which should be performed continuously till help arrives. The chest compressions are performed at the rate of 120 per minute and the depth of each chest compressions should be around 5-6 cms.

To enhance the outcomes in cardiac arrests we need high-quality adult resuscitation education and Hands-on Training to maximum citizens. To achieve this, we first need to create the awareness and creating confidence among laypersons, that their contribution is equally important for the survival of a sudden cardiac arrested victim outside the hospital.

The main motto of any project related to layperson training in CPR is to bring out wide popularity for resuscitation, impart training to as many laymen including school children so that every citizen becomes a lifesaver. The IRC aims to train at least one person in the family to save the life from sudden cardiac arrest.

So, remember, Each of one us can save a life. Your two hands can save a life. Your timely help with compression-only CPR (COLS), in this emergency, may save somebody’s life. This victim could be your family member, friend, or a stranger on the street! Let us take a pledge on this National CPR day to learn CPR.

About the authors: 

  • Mr Aditya Kumar is an Honorary Director Public Relations at Indian Resuscitation Council.
  • Dr Rakesh Garg  is an Honorary Scientific Director at Indian Resuscitation Council.

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The “well wishing” Aunties and Uncles of breastfeeding

Dr Emine A Rehman

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Aunty 1: The baby looks so thin, Baby needs cow’s milk, my dear. Me: Cow’s milk is for cow’s baby, my baby needs my milk.

Aunty 2: Oh God, such small breasts you have, how will your milk be enough? Me: My body has the capacity to create however much milk needed for my baby and you know it is the best food for her

Aunty 3: Don’t feed your baby so long, you are pampering him, he will never leave you. Me: How can you pamper your baby by nourishing him?

Aunty 4: Look at you, with the baby all the time, in our times we used to do all the household work and brought up so many kids as well. Me: bringing up a baby with love, care, and breastmilk is our choice as parents and we need all your help and support to successfully do it

Let’s ponder, how many of us have been the Aunty or ME in the above conversations in our lives? Almost all, right? Being a first-time mother at the age of 33 was not easy for me, to have a baby late was not a choice as well. Being a pediatrician was a privilege and personal life took a backseat in the pursuit of higher studies. I thought I knew the solutions to all the challenges of breastfeeding, but reality was far from different. As the saying goes “It takes a village to bring up a baby”, in the modern times “it takes an entire family to breastfeed a baby”. Urbanization, nuclear families and career goals have made the art of breastfeeding less familiar to many of the millennial to-be mothers. We want the best for our baby and we know that breastfeeding is the best path. However, many of us land up being a bundle of nerves when our babies arrive, not sure where to start and how to go about. Agreed that breastfeeding is natural both for mother and the baby, but we forget to warn the to-be mothers that it is a helluva painful, stressful and exhilarating ride. To top it all, mothers also have to deal with the benevolent, free-advice churning Aunties and Uncles in the midst of this roller-coaster. Many a time, the well-wisher could be our own father, mother or even husband. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, I could defend and retort to many of them. However, the dream is to equip every mother of our land with enough knowledge to be the ME in the above situations.

Adequate breastfeeding is a single practice that can prevent lakhs of children from dying, worldwide. World health organization and UNICEF recommends that breastfeeding is initiated within 1st hour of birth, baby be given nothing but mother’s milk till 6 months and breastfeeding to be continued till 2 years of age and beyond. The global rates for breastfeeding are 43%, 41%, and 45% at 1st hour, 6 months, and 2 years, respectively. So, it is not as universal as it has to be. Survey by POSHAN reported that in India, exclusive breastfeeding rate is 54.9%. Mothers face many a challenge like feeling of inadequate milk, household chores, expectations from workplace, pressure to supplement with formula etc. She needs the support of her near and dear ones as well as the community to overcome these hurdles. Currently, mothers can get guidance from ASHA/ anganawadi worker, and gain knowledge through materials circulated by Government of India via Radio and TV. She can also access various peer groups in social media as well as consult trained lactation counsellors. World Breastfeeding week celebration is celebrated every year in the 1st week of August and this year the theme is “Protect breastfeeding- a shared responsibility”. Breastfeeding no longer can be left as “ladies’ matter”. Confident, and knowledgeable mothers are the foundation of future generation. Hence, lets come together to support our mothers and become the true “well-wishing” Aunties and Uncles for our younger ones.

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Medically Speaking

REMOTELY SUPERVISED EXERCISE CLASSES ARE BEST OPTION DURING COVID

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The findings of a new study suggest that remotely supervised workout sessions are more effective than face-to-face exercise classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of the study appeared in the journal ‘Psychiatry Research’. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil investigated the effects of regular exercise on the physical and mental health of 344 volunteers during the pandemic.

The study compared the effectiveness of three techniques: sessions led in person by a fitness instructor, sessions featuring an online instructor but no supervision, and sessions supervised remotely by an instructor via video call. The two kinds of sessions with professional supervision had the strongest effects on physical and mental health. According to the researchers, this was due to the possibility of increasing the intensity of the exercises over time.

To their surprise, remotely supervised sessions were more effective than face-to-face sessions. Sedentary subjects served as controls. “The findings underscore the benefits of either approach, with the instructor online or physically present, compared with being sedentary. However, the physical and mental benefits have much to do with a secure and progressive increase in the intensity of the exercises, which occurred only when they were supervised by a professional. What’s interesting is that remote supervision by video call was more efficient. The difference was small but statistically significant,” Carla da Silva Batista, last author of the study, told Agencia FAPESP.

Batista is a researcher at the University of Sao Paulo’s School of Physical Education and Sports (EEFE-USP). The study was supported by FAPESP. Volunteers were selected from different age and income groups and came from different parts of Brazil. Some had symptoms of depression. The remotely supervised participants, who worked out using Pilates, Crossfit, yoga, dance and aerobics, exercised more intensely than those who lacked supervision.

“Increasing intensity in supervised online sessions was of paramount importance during the pandemic,” Batista said. “Around half the participants, or 55 per cent, performed high-intensity exercises before the pandemic, but the proportion fell to 30 per cent once lockdown began.” Other research shows intense exercise increases longevity, reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and is associated with a reduced risk of 26 types of cancer.

“We don’t know exactly why working out with remote supervision by video call gets better results than when the instructor is physically present,” Batista said. “It’s probably that the participants felt the discomfort of wearing a mask hindered their performance during the pandemic.”

Other reasons could include the possibility that remotely supervised participants were more motivated. “They were doing exercises in safety and at home, but with supervision and without having to wear a mask. They didn’t have to worry about spreading the virus, so the instructor may have felt free to increase the intensity of the exercises safely, without risking injury or discomfort,” Batista said.To evaluate the participants’ physical and mental health, in July-August 2020 the researchers applied validated online questionnaires known as the International Physical Activity Questionnaire – Short Form (IPAQ-SF) and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale – Self-Rated (MADRS-S).

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Medically Speaking

Chemotherapy can induce mutations that lead to pediatric leukemia relapse

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A new study has found that a group of chemotherapy drugs can result in mutations that may trigger the relapse of blood cancer in children.Chemotherapy has helped make acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) one of the most survivable childhood cancers. Now, researchers working in the US, Germany and China have shown how chemotherapy drugs called thiopurines can lead to mutations that set patients up for relapse. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Nature Cancer’.

The research provided the first direct genomic and experimental evidence in pediatric cancer that drug-resistant mutations can be induced by chemotherapy and are not always present at diagnosis. “The findings offer a paradigm shift in understanding how drug resistance develops,” said Jinghui Zhang, PhD, Department of Computational Biology chair at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“The results also suggest possible treatment strategies for ALL patients who relapse, including screening to identify those who should avoid additional thiopurine treatment,” added Zhang. Zhang is co-corresponding author of the study with Bin-Bing Zhou, Ph.D., of Shanghai Children’s Medical Center; and Renate Kirschner-Schwabe, M.D., of Charite-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin.

THE ROOTS OF RELAPSE

While 94 per cent of St. Jude patients with ALL become five-year survivors, relapse remains the leading cause of death worldwide for children and adolescents with ALL. This study involved ALL samples collected from relapsed pediatric ALL patients in the US, China and Germany. Researchers analysed more than 1,000 samples collected from the patients at different times in treatment, including samples from 181 patients collected at diagnosis, remission and relapse.Co-first author Samuel Brady, PhD, of St. Jude Computational Biology, identified a mutational signature that helped decipher the process. Mutational signatures reflect the history of genetic changes in cells.

Brady and his colleagues linked increased thiopurine-induced mutations to genes such as MSH2 that become mutated in leukemia. The mutations inactivated a DNA repair process called mismatch repair and rendered ALL resistant to thiopurines. The combination fueled a 10-fold increase in ALL mutations, including an alteration in the tumour suppressor gene TP53. The mutation, TP53 R248Q, promoted resistance to multiple chemotherapy drugs, including vincristine, daunorubicin and cytarabine.

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STUDY SUGGESTS EXCESS COFFEE CONSUMPTION COULD INCREASE RISK OF DEMENTIA

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It’s a favourite first-order for the day, but while a quick coffee may perk us up, new research from University of South Australia showed that too much could be dragging us down, especially when it comes to brain health.In the largest study of its kind, researchers have found that high coffee consumption is associated with smaller total brain volumes and an increased risk of dementia. The findings were published in the journal ‘Nutritional Neuroscience’.

Conducted at UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health at SAHMRI and a team of researchers, the study assessed the effects of coffee on the brain among 17,702 UK Biobank participants, finding that those who drank more than six cups of coffee a day had a 53 per cent increased risk of dementia. Lead researcher and UniSA PhD candidate, Kitty Pham, said the research delivers important insights for public health. “Coffee is among the most popular drinks in the world. Yet with global consumption being more than nine billion kilograms a year, it’s critical that we understand any potential health implications,” Pham said.

“This is the most extensive investigation into the connections between coffee, brain volume measurements, the risks of dementia, and the risks of stroke – it’s also the largest study to consider volumetric brain imaging data and a wide range of confounding factors,” Pham added.

“Accounting for all possible permutations, we consistently found that higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume – essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may be putting you at risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke,” Pham further said.Dementia is a degenerative brain condition that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. About 50 million people are diagnosed with the syndrome worldwide. In Australia, dementia is the second leading cause of death, with an estimated 250 people diagnosed each day.

Stroke is a condition where the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, resulting in oxygen starvation, brain damage and loss of function. Globally, one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. Data suggests that 13.7 million people will have a stroke this year with 5.5 million dying as a result.Senior investigator and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hypponen, said while the news may be a bitter brew for coffee lovers, it’s all about finding a balance between what you drink and what’s good for your health.

“This research provides vital insights about heavy coffee consumption and brain health, but as with many things in life, moderation is the key,” Professor Hypponen said. “Together with other genetic evidence and a randomised controlled trial, these data strongly suggest that high coffee consumption can adversely affect brain health. While the exact mechanisms are not known, one simple thing we can do is to keep hydrated and remember to drink a bit of water alongside that cup of coffee,” Professor Hypponen added.

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