Rest at regular intervals advised at awareness camp
Sabarimala pilgrims must be made aware of the importance of good health, which could drastically bring down the cardiac casualties in the pilgrim centre, said Sonia Suresh, renowned diabetologist and physician.
Though the Health Department had provided ample healthcare facilities at Sabarimala, 35 pilgrims had died of cardiac problems during the last Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.
Delivering the keynote address at a health awareness programme for pilgrims, at DTPC Sathram complex in Thiruvalla on Saturday, Dr. Sonia said that proper monitoring of pilgrims' health and a slow climb could well reduce the risk.
Undertaking the arduous trek of Neelimala and Appachimedu hills at one go would only increase risk and spoil the very spirit of the pilgrimage.
Pilgrims having diabetes, kidney and liver ailments should climb slowly and rest at regular intervals, she said.
Pilgrims above the age of 45 years, especially those with a family history of cardiac ailments, should undergo a medical check-up before undertaking the pilgrimage. According to her, angina, myocardial infraction, worsening of bronchial asthma, hypoglycemia and heart failure (acute pulmonary odema) are some of the problems related to exertion.
Pilgrims who feel breathing difficulty, palpitation, chest pain, syncope, etc. should not hesitate to consult a doctor at the nearest healthcare centre at Pampa, Sannidhanam or along the trekking path, she added.
Dr. Sonia said it is better to eat light before the trek. Persons in the high risk category should not compromise on sleep or carry weight during the pilgrimage.
Threat of infectious diseases is another problem in Sabarimala since pilgrims numbering the State's population visit in a span of two months.
She said pilgrims should not abruptly stop taking medicines in the name of penance. They should also take the advantage of the oxygen parlours set up by the Health department along the trekking path, when required.
Persons with cardiac and valvular heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, bronchial asthma, kidney and liver disease, anaemia and those with a family history of cardiac ailments should be classified as high risk individuals.