The Hindu Sevith Rao and Sishir Rao. Photo: G. Ramakrishna
A small idea which generated in the living room of their house has led two Telugu boys from the city to research more about the reasons why Indians are more prone to cardio vascular ailments. Sevith and Sishir Rao are brothers and live abroad with their parents and at a very young age they were devastated with their father’s massive heart attack. “He was in his early Forties and was a teetotaller and quite an active man. As a family we were in a state of shock at what happened. We were pretty young then and all I knew at that age was that dad was seriously ill and there was something wrong with his heart,” recollects Sevith.
It turned out that their father suffered with a massive heart attack with 5 blocks. But, fortunately because of the health care system which was very strong and the support of the family, he was back on his feet again, they say. This was followed by a series of similar complaints in the family and “as young students we began to wonder what could be wrong with us medically. We studied and researched a lot and it so turned out that as Indians we have smaller cardio vascular vessels in comparison to Caucasians and add to it, our food eating habits consist of carbohydrates in the form of white rice,” says Sevith, a senior at Rice University and is majoring in Health Sciences and Health Care Management. He was a co-chair of the health committee for the Rice Students Association.
As the two grew up, Sevith and Sishir were sure to take their findings forward and work on it towards building a healthy future. And how? “A little awareness on our food habits, our activities and alertness,” says Sishir. “Being a little vigil can save one a lot of money later. And to bring about the need to be alert we suggest simple blood tests to test the lipids etc,” says Sishir who is a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School and is pursuing radiology and Neuro-interventional training at the Massachusetts. With this view in mind, Sishir and Sevith started to create a network of volunteers which can lead them towards their goal. “Thus was formed the Indian Heart Association and Indian Stroke Association — a non-profit body whose aim is to build a better and healthy nation. As part of our goals we have conducted blood tests and health camps in rural areas where health care doesn’t reach to the average marginal farmers. All the tests including the consultations were done for free using personal funds and help from well wishers,” says Sishir.
Sevith and Sishir have also teamed up with the Indian medical student association so that the primary intervention to basic health care becomes much more easy and feasible with the youth joining hands to spread the awareness.