Politicians on campaign trail seek votes - and doctors

May 2nd, 2009 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Electioneering in 40 degrees Celsius-plus temperatures is sending an increasing number of politicians to health checkup clinics, say doctors, though the candidates themselves are loath to admit it.
Long hours of campaigning in this summer and reduced sleep make politicians prone to heart attacks, doctors say. As an example, they point to 50-year-old Indrajit Purakait, a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader, who lost the district council elections in West Bengal in 2008. Unable to bear the shock, Purakait had a heart attack and died. His experience should serve as a warning to other politicians, the doctors say.

At least some politicians are taking the warning seriously. Haji Mohammed Yunus, who is contesting on the Bahujan Samaj Party ticket against sitting MP Sandeep Dikshit in the East Delhi constituency, told IANS: “I have been campaigning for long hours in the scorching heat which takes away all energy. Just before starting the campaign trail I had visited a doctor for a health checkup.”

Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Jai Prakash Aggarwal, contesting from the Northeast Delhi constituency, has been taking care of his health by going on morning walks and keeping a check on his diet.

“Though I don’t visit a doctor for any regular health checkup, I do make sure to go for an early morning walk and to have a good night’s sleep. I am also keeping a check on my diet,” Aggarwal told IANS.

K.K. Aggarwal, senior cardiologist at Moolchand Medcity, said: “Due to the hectic pre-poll campaigning which requires long-distance walking, many candidates are reporting for checkups related to heart, blood pressure and diabetes.”

Aggarwal, who is also president of the Heart Care Foundation of India, says that candidates should meditate and also practise yoga to reduce stress.

Said Sanjay Mittal, senior cardiologist, Metro Hospitals and Heart Institute, Noida: “During the election period contestants are very cautious about their health and report for health checkups because they have to cover long distances on foot for campaigning. Those who are heart patients are feeling the brunt of poll stress.”

Many political leaders in the country are suffering from one health problem or the other. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had heart bypass surgery this January. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also had bypass surgery in 2001. Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan underwent angioplasty in 2005 to clear a blockage in a cardiac artery.

(Nakshab Khan can be contacted at nakshab.k@ians.in)

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