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      Diseases of Poverty and Lifestyle, Well-Being and Human Development

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          Abstract

          The problems of the haves differ substantially from those of the have-nots. Individuals in developing societies have to fight mainly against infectious and communicable diseases, while in the developed world the battles are mainly against lifestyle diseases. Yet, at a very fundamental level, the problems are the same-the fight is against distress, disability, and premature death; against human exploitation and for human development and self-actualisation; against the callousness to critical concerns in regimes and scientific power centres.

          While there has been great progress in the treatment of individual diseases, human pathology continues to increase. Sicknesses are not decreasing in number, they are only changing in type.

          The primary diseases of poverty like TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS-and the often co-morbid and ubiquitous malnutrition-take their toll on helpless populations in developing countries. Poverty is not just income deprivation but capability deprivation and optimism deprivation as well.

          While life expectancy may have increased in the haves, and infant and maternal mortality reduced, these gains have not necessarily ensured that well-being results. There are ever-multiplying numbers of individuals whose well-being is compromised due to lifestyle diseases. These diseases are the result of faulty lifestyles and the consequent crippling stress. But it serves no one's purpose to understand them as such. So, the prescription pad continues to prevail over lifestyle-change counselling or research.

          The struggle to achieve well-being and positive health, to ensure longevity, to combat lifestyle stress and professional burnout, and to reduce psychosomatic ailments continues unabated, with hardly an end in sight.

          We thus realise that morbidity, disability, and death assail all three societies: the ones with infectious diseases, the ones with diseases of poverty, and the ones with lifestyle diseases. If it is bacteria in their various forms that are the culprit in infectious diseases, it is poverty/deprivation in its various manifestations that is the culprit in poverty-related diseases, and it is lifestyle stress in its various avatars that is the culprit in lifestyle diseases. It is as though poverty and lifestyle stress have become the modern “bacteria” of developing and developed societies, respectively.

          For those societies afflicted with diseases of poverty, of course, the prime concern is to escape from the deadly grip of poverty-disease-deprivation-helplessness; but, while so doing, they must be careful not to land in the lap of lifestyle diseases. For the haves, the need is to seek well-being, positive health, and inner rootedness; to ask science not only to give them new pills for new ills, but to define and study how negative emotions hamper health and how positive ones promote it; to find out what is inner peace, what is the connection between spirituality and health, what is well-being, what is self-actualisation, what prevents disease, what leads to longevity, how simplicity impacts health, what attitudes help cope with chronic sicknesses, how sicknesses can be reversed (not just treated), etc. Studies on well-being, longevity, and simplicity need the concerted attention of researchers.

          The task ahead is cut out for each one of us: physician, patient, caregiver, biomedical researcher, writer/journalist, science administrator, policy maker, ethicist, man of religion, practitioner of alternate/complementary medicine, citizen of a world community, etc. Each one must do his or her bit to ensure freedom from disease and achieve well-being.

          Those in the developed world have the means to make life meaningful but, often, have lost the meaning of life itself; those in the developing world are fighting for survival but, often, have recipes to make life meaningful. This is especially true of a society like India, which is rapidly emerging from its underdeveloped status. It is an ancient civilization, with a philosophical outlook based on a robust mix of the temporal and the spiritual, with vibrant indigenous biomedical and related disciplines, for example, Ayurveda, Yoga, etc. It also has a burgeoning corpus of modern biomedical knowledge in active conversation with the rest of the world. It should be especially careful that, while it does not negate the fruits of economic development and scientific/biomedical advance that seem to beckon it in this century, it does not also forget the values that have added meaning and purpose to life; values that the ancients bequeathed it, drawn from their experiential knowledge down the centuries.

          The means that the developed have could combine with the recipes to make them meaningful that the developing have. That is the challenge ahead for mankind as it gropes its way out of poverty, disease, despair, alienation, anomie, and the ubiquitous all-devouring lifestyle stresses, and takes halting steps towards well-being and the glory of human development.

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          Most cited references 156

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          Impact of Psychological Factors on the Pathogenesis of Cardiovascular Disease and Implications for Therapy

          Recent studies provide clear and convincing evidence that psychosocial factors contribute significantly to the pathogenesis and expression of coronary artery disease (CAD). This evidence is composed largely of data relating CAD risk to 5 specific psychosocial domains: (1) depression, (2) anxiety, (3) personality factors and character traits, (4) social isolation, and (5) chronic life stress. Pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between these entities and CAD can be divided into behavioral mechanisms, whereby psychosocial conditions contribute to a higher frequency of adverse health behaviors, such as poor diet and smoking, and direct pathophysiological mechanisms, such as neuroendocrine and platelet activation. An extensive body of evidence from animal models (especially the cynomolgus monkey, Macaca fascicularis) reveals that chronic psychosocial stress can lead, probably via a mechanism involving excessive sympathetic nervous system activation, to exacerbation of coronary artery atherosclerosis as well as to transient endothelial dysfunction and even necrosis. Evidence from monkeys also indicates that psychosocial stress reliably induces ovarian dysfunction, hypercortisolemia, and excessive adrenergic activation in premenopausal females, leading to accelerated atherosclerosis. Also reviewed are data relating CAD to acute stress and individual differences in sympathetic nervous system responsivity. New technologies and research from animal models demonstrate that acute stress triggers myocardial ischemia, promotes arrhythmogenesis, stimulates platelet function, and increases blood viscosity through hemoconcentration. In the presence of underlying atherosclerosis (eg, in CAD patients), acute stress also causes coronary vasoconstriction. Recent data indicate that the foregoing effects result, at least in part, from the endothelial dysfunction and injury induced by acute stress. Hyperresponsivity of the sympathetic nervous system, manifested by exaggerated heart rate and blood pressure responses to psychological stimuli, is an intrinsic characteristic among some individuals. Current data link sympathetic nervous system hyperresponsivity to accelerated development of carotid atherosclerosis in human subjects and to exacerbated coronary and carotid atherosclerosis in monkeys. Thus far, intervention trials designed to reduce psychosocial stress have been limited in size and number. Specific suggestions to improve the assessment of behavioral interventions include more complete delineation of the physiological mechanisms by which such interventions might work; increased use of new, more convenient "alternative" end points for behavioral intervention trials; development of specifically targeted behavioral interventions (based on profiling of patient factors); and evaluation of previously developed models of predicting behavioral change. The importance of maximizing the efficacy of behavioral interventions is underscored by the recognition that psychosocial stresses tend to cluster together. When they do so, the resultant risk for cardiac events is often substantially elevated, equaling that associated with previously established risk factors for CAD, such as hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.
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              Resident burnout.

              Intense work demands, limited control, and a high degree of work-home interference abound in residency training programs and should strongly predispose resident physicians to burnout as they do other health care professionals. This article reviews studies in the medical literature that address the level of burnout and associated personal and work factors, health and performance issues, and resources and interventions in residents. MEDLINE and PubMed databases were searched for peer-reviewed, English-language studies reporting primary data on burnout or dimensions of burnout among residents, published between 1983 and 2004, using combinations of the Medical Subject Heading terms burnout, professional, emotional exhaustion, cynicism, depersonalization and internship and residency, housestaff, intern, resident, or physicians in training and by examining reference lists of retrieved articles for relevant studies. A total of 15 heterogeneous articles on resident burnout were thus identified. The studies suggest that burnout levels are high among residents and may be associated with depression and problematic patient care. However, currently available data are insufficient to identify causal relationships and do not support using demographic or personality characteristics to identify at-risk residents. Moreover, given the heterogeneous nature and limitations of the available studies, as well as the importance of having rigorous data to understand and prevent resident burnout, large, prospective studies are needed.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Mens Sana Monogr
                Mens Sana Monogr
                MSM
                Mens Sana Monographs
                Medknow Publications (India )
                0973-1229
                1998-4014
                Jan-Dec 2008
                : 6
                : 1
                : 187-225
                Affiliations
                [* ]Psychiatrist. Editor, Mens Sana Monographs, India
                [** ]Reader and Head, Dept. of Philosophy, Joshi-Bedekar College, Thane, India. Deputy Editor, Mens Sana Monographs, India
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to: 14, Shiva Kripa, Trimurty Road, Mulund, Mumbai, India. Email: mensanamonographs@ 123456hotmail.com
                Article
                MSM-6-187
                10.4103/0973-1229.40567
                3190550
                22013359
                © Mens Sana Monographs

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Poverty And Human Development

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