Ask Me Anything – Prof. Oskars Kalējs

  1. Where would you recommend travelling?  
  • In Latvia: Liepāja – Ventspils – Kolka with “pit stops” along the way. If on bikes, then I suggest following the old railway, although much of it can be “picked up” by car (the low ones do not work). Latgale- starting from Daugavpils, downwards – Ēģipte (there is such a place in Latvia), then Zemgale, then Skrudaliena, Krāslava, Indra and along the border to Zilupe, Kārsava, Viļaka … It’s recommended to plan time for a leisurely tour.
  • Salaca in the spring – from Mazsalaca to Salacgrīva.
  • Andalusia. Granada, Seville, Cordoba.
  • Sicily (the small villages). Nino Rota’s music constantly playing in the ears.
  • Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. How they got it done is still unclear. Similar to Machu Picchu.

  1. Can you throw 3 3-pointers in a row?
  • It has happened in practices, but I cannot promise it “on request” ☺. There is room for improvement… and like that everywhere and always. Then it’s interesting and never boring.


  1. Which is better MJ23 or LJ6?
  • In my opinion, they cannot be compared. Different times and different styles. Each the greatest player of his era. We do not compare Abdul Jabbar with Shaq, do we? I very much hope that after some 10 years, a colleague will ask about DN41 and KP6. I very much hope so!


  1. Who is the basketball player in Cardiology department?
  • There are many in the Latvian Centre of Cardiology. Starting with Prof. A.Ērglis (still playing among veterans), Kārlis Griķis, cardiac surgeons Ints Putniņš (over 200 cm), Ivars Brečš, Artūrs Koris, Jānis Pavārs, vascular surgeon Gunārs Mednis, cardiologist Indulis Kumsārs (although he is now less involved in the “collective thing” ). I myself am still moving and am also trying to play among veterans. I want what’s better, sometimes happens as usual, but sometimes it’s not at all bad.


  1. Were you an excellent student in medical studies?
  • On the second try something like that perhaps. I do not hide –  there have been two tries and the first one was not too successful, but from today’s point of view I’m glad it was that way. The second time (after med school and work, and life experience), I clearly knew what and why I wanted. I also knew when to bite my fist and pull through. Still it did not stop me from causing some troubles, but the final version succeeded quite well. I even managed to graduate (Riga Medical Institute at the time) with a red diploma (excellence).


  1. Hello beloved professor! Please, tell us, how did you choose your speciality?
  • Ohhh, that’s a long story … In short, medicine was not the No. 1 choice, but after “conversations about life” with my best friend, classmate since the 7th grade Jānis (Jirgensons, who is also a RSU professor and cardiologist, unfortunately since October 16, 2007, in a different dimension) in an intellectual environment and place and conditions, we arrived at this “consensus”. I have never regretted this choice.


  1. What are the biggest disadvantages of cloning?
  • In my opinion, the biggest risk is the unpredictable change in transfer and interaction of genes. Mother Nature handles it well, but in this situation the process may become uncontrollable.


  1. What is your most remarkable adventure on the water?
  • The Lielupe river, the sea, everything gets quiet, there is no wind, and “the black” is inexorably approaching from the side. Those who know will understand. In that moment, the instinct shrieks that it is necessary to use oars or buckets to row towards Lielupe, closer to the shore. Knowledge and skills say the opposite. At that moment, it is important that the captain gives orders and everyone in the cockpit and on the deck obeys without silly comments and questions “what’s going on?” and “can someone explain anything to me?” We will explain “after”! In movies (that are usually rubbish action movies) there is always someone who asks these questions “at the most appropriate time” and who for some reason in difficult situations hasn’t had the wits to turn the sound of their phones off.
  • Secondly – Amata river, the beginning of April, snow on shores and ice in some places near the shores. We were a little slow when we took a turn and got forced into fallen trees (there was nothing there in the previous year). An “over” in a few seconds non-negotiable. Afterwards I looked at the helmet, two scratches on it … an old-fashioned motorcycle helmet. If I hadn’t had the helmet …
  • A lot has been experienced on the water and with and around the water. I’m friends with waters, but I always remember that they should be treated with respect. They were here billions of years before us … the Ocean, the Sea, and the small rivers as well.


  1. What is Your favourite thing to do on a lazy Saturday?
  • Ahhhh … Winnie the Pooh’s conversation with Christopher Robin about “doing nothing” comes to mind. Lazy Saturdays are rare, but … once it’s decided to “do nothing”, usually it’s a book or a lazy trip around Latvia according to the principle “where the nose leads”.


  1. In Your opinion, which memorizing method is the best to memorize everything?
  • To each their own. Every person is different. For me the best are associative images or some associations. In histology, the striated musculature in the microscope resembles a forest from an airplane, in German Geschichte, Gedichte, Gesichte (easily confused). History – writing, schreiben. Poem- reciting. Face.
  • The memory can be trained. If you’ve been lucky to have friends (Jānis, Kārlis, Akselis, etc.) in your life who are also interested in history, then there can be no discussion without knowing the facts.


  1. What about cardiology do you find the most fascinating?
  • Cardiology encounters problems of all of the body. It can be diabetes, or skin, or nose. The basis of cardiology is the circulation and its provision. Neurohumoral regulation, blood flow, metabolic processes. Cardiology studies the pump that cares for and supplies this unique mechanism, that we are.


  1. Dear Prof. Kalejs, the state exam includes two cardiological question without clear classifications. Why don’t you remove them from the catalogue of questions?
  • I did not really understand what was asked but … there are classifications and there are a), b), c) etc., but medicine is not just about classifying everything. Medicine is also an art, an art of thought, an art of interpretation (an interpretation has to be based on scientific evidence, rather than on arguments from “What do doctors not tell you?” (Latv. “Ko ārsti jums nestāsta”)).
  • In real practice and in real life, everything cannot be classified.


  1. What makes a lecturer interesting?
  • It’s hard to say. Perhaps the skill to explain complex things in an understandable way, to feel the audience, to make some jokes (typical for American audiences, the Europeans have adapted in the last 10 to 15 years), not to go over long-known things. You should know your lectures, what follows after this slide, transitions, summaries, accents, conclusions.


  1. You always have very tasteful ties! Do you collect them? Where do you buy them?
  • I do collect them. I do not specifically search for them, but I sometimes stick my nose in places where you can and might find interesting ties. Sometimes I am given ties as gifts, they are usually thematic. But there are still some I’m looking for and that I will find.


15.In Your opinion, what makes a doctor a professional and an excellent doctor? Is the secret in perfect grades or it is something special?

  • The grades are part of the evaluation, but often the professionals in the field with a capital letter become those whose “numbers” were sometimes not the brightest. A professional never stops growing, is always on the move, is always a “hacker” in the positive sense of the word. The desire to know, the desire to understand, oftentimes the ability to give a lot up to use the time more effectively. And here are the key words: “to use the time more effectively”. If you are able to manage your time, you can find the time to read the latest in medicine, as well as Bulgakov or Remarque, or Hašek, then there is also time for sports, even some travelling can be managed.
  • A professional and an excellent specialist is not someone who knows his own field on a molecular level but as soon as asked something outside of it can go “neither right nor left”. This is the view that gives you the opportunity to “see the field”, which characterizes a Professional.


  1. What would be the fastest way to get AH?
  • Moving too little, having bad eating habits, underestimating sports. At the same time, it is necessary to take into account that “stamp in the passport” by which we understand the heritage of ancestors, I mean genetics. Anamnesis Familiae.


  1. What is the worst thing a patient could say to his cardiologist?
  • I do not believe you!


  1. If you could change one thing in society as a whole, what would you change?
  • Elections are coming … and what if it’s something that coincides with RPP – “the right party programs”? What would I want to change? Eradicate envy and the craving to peek in others’ home and in others’ pocket.


  1. What has been the most interesting case in your doctor’s practice?
  • Ohhh … if we start from the “emergency” times, then resuscitation in flats with equipment of the 80’s, the providing of help by going under an unmoving train; in the Stradins’ era – young people with cardiomyopathies, high-class young athletes whose careers could have been ruined by an overly restrictive approach but now we applaud them, the first invasive catheter ablations under X-ray control, the first catheter ablations in cardiac surgery…


  1. What do you do with lazy students?
  • In reality, there are very few of those. RSU is not the place where people come to be lazy or because they had to study somewhere simple because everyone did. If a young person has a “crisis”, then usually a good help is a friendly conversation face-to-face, without rudeness and threats, humanly. Occasionally, life does somersaults and it’s important not to be the one who puts the last nail in the coffin.


  1. Do you advise students and other young people under 40 to determine their lipid levels?
  • Especially if there are unpleasant facts in the family history or the student’s own situation, habits can also be risky. Initially, it’s best to determine it “to have a reference” so to say.


  1. Which is the best sport for cardiovascular health?
  • Although I am a fan of sports games, I think it’s swimming or cycling. Condition – you have to be able to swim, but if swimming skills are in the style of an axe, then a great way is to make do with plastic/ foam boards. Arrive at the pool, pick up a board in extended arms and pretend to be a “Missouri” liner ship. “Bismarck” or “Hood” are not the best examples (once again, historical knowledge). In the sea, it’s great to swim parallel to the shore at a reasonable depth.
  • Personally, I like to ride a bike, only the self-preservation instinct is always alert. It is nice to ride along the sea, along tracks, along the same railroad tracks. Helmet, however, is imperative.
  • Some will say – but what about running. In my opinion, if you did not do it in school, in trainings and have no skills, then later on your back and knees will not be glad. In all respects – serious shoes and also a place to do it are needed.


  1. Where are the best cars produced?
  • A provocation? Ferrari Forever, as for a Schumacher fan! If 30 years ago it could be said that it is Bavaria (Stuttgart, Munich, Ingolstadt), then now the world class cars are quite spread out. For the past 13 years I have been driving Peugeot- 407, 508GT and 508RXH and I cannot say a bad word. There is a positive experience with the products of August Horch. In my opinion, it makes no sense to overpay for a brand if it causes economic difficulties. A good car is comfortable, does not consume one-third of the budget and does not live in repair shops. The motor must have a “reserve”, as sometimes the length of the car’s survival depends on it.


  1. The best conference/congress abroad that you’ve had a chance to participate in?
  • There have been many. The most memorable:
  • European Cardiac Arrhythmia Society, 2005, Marseilles. Association founding Conference, “Main Session” report with all “the industry pine cones” in the hall.
  • International Dead Sea Symposium, 2010, Tel Aviv. Report and evening with the world’s leading specialists. We have a very friendly relationship now, some have been to Latvia, some are planning to come, also to the RSU conference in 2019…
  • American College of Cardiology, 2015, San Diego. First of all, a report with a great discussion, a report in the expert committee, then the FACC- The Fellow of the American College of Cardiology status, the inauguration ceremony … and at night a walk along the bay promenade along the airbase ship “Midway” while singing “We are the champions!”.
  • The Greatest Conference: yet to come!


  1. Does my 87-year-young grandmother with a paroxysmal atrial fibrillation need to take anticoagulants?
  • At least three CHA2DS2 – VASc points are already there. Required but in reduced doses. Health to grandmother!


  1. What is your philosophy in life?
  • Never, never, never give up!
  • Years are only numbers – age comes from the head.
  • Do not stop climbing – from the top of new mountains, you see new horizons and therefore there is no end to this road!
  • It’s sad to have nothing to remember … (but it must be understood RIGHT!)


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