Ten thousand ‘beating heart’ surgeries and counting still. For the team at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, that made it possible, it was an occasion to celebrate.

Over the past couple of decades, 36,000 heart operations have been performed at Chennai, nearly 26,000 coronary bypass surgeries. As M.R. Girinath, team lead and chief cardio-vascular surgeon, said that till about 10 years ago these operations were being done with conventional techniques involving the use of the heart lung machine. However, currently, nearly 90 per cent of Coronary Arterial Bypass Graft (CABG) operations were being done using the beating heart technique.

Dr. Girinath explained how this led to a marked reduction in post-operation complications and also brought down hospital mortality after CABG to 0.6 per cent. Whereas in the conventional “on pump” bypass, the mortality was higher at 2.1 per cent. The long-term results were identical to those from conventional heart-lung machine surgery.

Compared to the past, cardiologists were seeing more cases of Coronary Artery Disease owing in great part to changing lifestyles, Dr. Girinath said. Drugs and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), more commonly known as balloon dilation and stenting, were also used to treat CAD. Cardiologists at Apollo also pioneered balloon angioplasty procedures and positioned themselves in the forefront of PCI. The Apollo Hospital also trained a number of surgeons and cardiologists, many of whom have moved to other centres within the group as well as outside.

I. Sathyamurthy, director and senior interventional cardiologist, said more young people were coming to the hospital with CAD, a disease triggered by stress, low HDL levels, smoking and a completely sedentary life. In comparison, in the West, there were more patients between 65 and 70 years. He also posited the importance and advantage of primary angioplasty as soon as the patient was wheeled into the hospital after heart attack.

L.F. Sridhar, cardiac surgeon, said beating heart had stood the test of time and would become the primary mode of treatment in the future.

Pratap C. Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals, said while the hospital was in the forefront of treating heart disease, the burden would become huge unless some preventive action was taken. While it was possible to get the latest treatment and the best of equipment, preventive lifestyle modifications and periodic health check-up would stand people in good stead. “Do not wait for the disease to hit you, especially if you have a family history.”

He indicated that research on stem cell development and gene modification was under way in the Apollo group.

Preetha Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals, said 10,000 was just a number, but it was the trust that patients invested in the hospital that was heart warming. A huge complement of clinical staff that invoked the trust worked together as a team and was on a par with the best in the rest of the world.

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