Acute heart attacks are challenging clinical conditions, but if treated promptly the results are gratifying, say cardiologists.

Four tertiary care hospitals in the State have joined hands to develop a care model for patients who suffer from acute heart attacks. The model relies on modern technology to provide care in ambulances, while a patient is being shifted to the hospital.

Acute heart attacks are challenging clinical conditions, but if treated promptly the results are gratifying, say cardiologists. Studies have shown that even in urban areas in India, on an average a person reaches a hospital six hours after suffering a heart attack. However, standardised care by trained paramedical staff while transporting the patient in an ambulance could prevent serious damage to heart muscles, doctors say.

At present, even in the best ambulance services, paramedics are trained only to monitor vital systems. There is no participation from a specialist. STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction), a non-profit organisation, has evolved a model which uses a hand-held ECG monitoring device with the facility to transmit data to a cardiologist, who will manage the patient.

In an experiment in Erode with a multispecialty hospital as the hub and smaller hospitals as the spokes, around 100 heart attack patients from neighbouring towns and villages were transported to the hub and cardiologists monitored the patients. The study proved that patients could reach a hospital in less than three hours with 75 per cent of them using an ambulance.

The study is in the process of being expanded with four large hospitals as hubs. STEMI has tied up with CMC, Vellore; Kovai Medical Centre, Coimbatore and Chennai-based Madras Medical Mission and Madras Medical College to which the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital is attached, to conduct a pilot study.

“We are in the process of finalising all parts of this project. It is linked to the Chief Minister’s comprehensive health insurance scheme and so is affordable for everybody. The second component is making it inclusive. MMC, a government institution, is one of the clusters,” Thomas Alexander, consultant cardiologist with Kovai Medical Centre told me.

“The third component is the technology. STEMI’s hand-held device doubles up as an ECG machine, monitors data entry and is a transmission tool. The fourth component is the transportation, We are working to make GVK EMRI 108 a part of the system,” he added. The project, costing Rs. 50 lakh, is being funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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Health & LifestyleSeptember 24, 2010