Some months ago, Ravindra Patil (43), an assistant police inspector (API) with the wireless division of the Mumbai police, noticed tiny lumps under his eyes. He initially took them to be a sign of aging or of a lack of sleep owing to frequent changes in his work timings. However, during a mandatory health checkup by the department recently, Patil was alarmed to learn that the lumps were a sign of excessively high cholesterol which, if left unchecked, could prove fatal.
Patil’s is not an isolated case. A recent study, which followed the largest ever health checkup drive conducted by the Mumbai police, involving 18,426 male personnel over 40, revealed that 20% – or 4,126 cops – have very high cholesterol and are in need of urgent medical attention. Men over 40 comprise nearly 50% of the total strength of the Mumbai police.
Another 60%, or 10,555 of the 18,426 men tested, were found to be borderline cases, advancing towards full-blown medical conditions if they did not take medication and follow a strict health regimen. Of the 18,426 tested, 98% were between the ages of 40 and 58, while 2% were between 58 and 60.
High cholesterol is the cause of a host of health problems, including heart-related conditions, which have been the leading cause of premature death among policemen. Last year, of the 163 policemen who died prematurely, 57, or 35%, succumbed to cardiac arrest.
Anup Kumar Singh, joint commissioner of police, administration, who oversaw the check-ups, said, “Health complications are less common among young people – it is only after 40 that vital parameters start fluctuating. We therefore wanted to check the health of our aging men to enable us to detect complications early and take corrective steps.”
The drive involved lower-rank cops and excluded Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, who undergo regular check-ups as part of their service condition. “We (IPS officers) have to undergo mandatory annual health checks. This time, we decided to extend it to all our men,” Singh said. The drive, which cost Rs 40 lakh, was paid for by the Police Welfare Fund.
The checks included a complete blood profile, which is a comprehensive indicator of a person’s health. “The profile includes a complete blood count (CBC) test, lipid (fats) profile, blood glucose level (after fasting), creatinine test, liver enzyme tests and more,” Singh said.