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ICMR to analyze health records of Mahatma Gandhi
eMediNexus,  14 September 2018
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It may appear that Mahatma Gandhi, lean in physique and active in demeanor, was fit as a fiddle; but not many know he reeled under high blood pressure (BP). Gandhiji often used to fast, sometimes for periods stretching to 21 days, as a mark of rebellion in the tense political climate of the pre-independence era. At one such time, his blood pressure shot up to 180/110 mg/dL on the third day of his fast, says a note written by Sushila Nayar, former Health Minister, on March 5, 1939, in Rajkot, Gujarat.


Gandhiji used to consume ‘Sarpagandha,’ an ayurvedic medicine, to control his BP, a relic of which is preserved in the museum. Also, his ECG records indicate slight myocardosis i.e. degeneration of the heart muscle. His sugar levels, though were under control, at times dipping as low as 40. His hemoglobin was 14.96 and heart rate at 80 to 81 beats per minute, in one of the reports. His heart rate varied slightly, but was mostly normal. In one of the letters written by Mumbai-based physician Jeevraj Mehta to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the doctor insists that Gandhiji’s weight should be maintained at close to 50 kg. Gandhi was grossly underweight. When in Kolkata, records indicate Gandhiji was tended to by renowned doctor BC Roy…


“Frequent fasting may have led to high BP. ICMR will interpret the health files of Gandhiji and come out with a research paper. Bhargava had visited us to collect a copy of the records, which include comprehensive reports and analysis of Gandhiji’s BP, blood count, urine analysis, dietary patterns and electrocardiograms as well as oscillographs, which indicate his heart health,” said A Annamalai, Director of the National Gandhi Museum… (The Hindu Business Line, September 12, 2018).

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