When 50-year-old Senthamarai complained of chest pain and threw up several times on Monday, her son took her to Government Stanley Hospital.
“This hospital is well equipped and I was sure she would be taken good care of,” he said. Within 90 minutes of being admitted, Senthamarai underwent a surgery to treat the 100 per cent block in an artery of her heart. Conventionally, patients are given thrombolytic drugs to dissolve the clot, but often patients need further invasive treatments such as angioplasty and stenting.
Internationally, when the procedure is done within the first 120 minutes of medical contact, the results are good for the patient, say cardiologists who are treating Senthamarai. But lack of access to an equipped hospital, poor financial acumen and non-availability of experienced surgeons to perform the procedure deters immediate treatment, said cardiologists K. Kannan and G. Justin Paul.
“Even in a metropolitan city like Chennai only less than eight per cent of patients with heart attack get to have this primary angioplasty and stenting,” Dr. Justin said.
The cardiologists used the pinhole procedure, where a stent was introduced through the radial artery in the wrist. “The woman had suffered a massive heart attack with a variety of complications requiring multiple electrical shocks and the implantation of a pacemaker. We were able to complete the entire procedure within 90 minutes of the first medical contact,” Dr. Justin added.
It helped that Senthamarai had the CM’s health insurance card. “All it required was a call [to the insurance officials] and we began the treatment,” Dr. Kannan said. The hospital has so far done 25 such procedures.
Hospital dean S. Geethalakshmi said there are eight cardiologists at any given time at the hospital. “Private and public hospitals in the area can administer the thrombolytic drug to heart attack patients and transport them to us in a well-equipped ambulance for invasive procedures” she said.
Senthamarai is now recuperating in the intensive medical care unit. She will be shifted to the ward in a couple of days and then discharged.