Bal Thackeray: Heart, stomach and lungs troubled him
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For 16 years, Bal Thackeray fought a long, difficult battle against many ailments, most of them complicated and some interlinked — heart-related troubles, stomach problems and more recently COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He faced his first major health problem in 1996, months after his wife Meenatai's death, when he complained of chest pain and had to be taken to Hinduja Hospital. Late cardiovascular surgeon Nitu Mandke was asked to rush from Ahmedabad to treat the leader. Doctors had detected a block at the origin of the left anterior descending artery, and decided he needed a bypass surgery. Thackeray, who was spearheading the campaign for the local civic body election with six meetings a day, was asked to take it easy.
Over the years, he has been suffering from the commonly coexisting COPD and emphysema, in which the lungs' airways become narrow and limit the flow of air, causing shortness of breath. He also had ischemic heart disease, and underwent a cataract operation once.
His stomach ailment was one that disturbs the digestion process. He once said he had been asked to drink wine twice a day to tackle constipation. He said he preferred white wine to red, which he was advised.
With age, Thackeray's health problems grew more and more serious. In February 2009, he was admitted to Lilavati Hospital for 14 days after he complained of fever and exhaustion.
In June 2009, a day before his party's foundation day, he was admitted to the ICU with breathlessness and palpitations, his oxygen level dropping and blood pressure shooting up. The foundation day ceremony was put on hold.
The following month, he underwent an angioplasty after an angiography revealed narrowed heart vessels. He skipped the Dussehra rally.
The next year, during which he turned 83, saw him more robust, and in good spirits. He addressed a function to mark the 50th year of Maharashtra's formation. He had gained nearly 17 kg in 10 months, and resumed his walking in his residential colony in Bandra, doing without support five rounds in the morning and 15 in the evening. He also returned to caricaturing.