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Updated: September 29, 2011 11:54 IST

Put heart and soul into preventive cardiology

K. V. Prasad
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World Heart Day being observed today

So what if there is a drug-eluting stent or balloon? And, so what if there are highly-skilled cardio-thoracic surgeons who can open up the chest and put a bypass graft in the heart to overcome a block in the blood vessel? Avoid the trauma of undergoing these procedures, say heart specialists. They are not keen on demonstrating their expertise on people who bring agony upon themselves through avoidable indulgence.

Preventive cardiology is being emphasised by heart specialists who are alarmed at the rate of incidence of cardio-vascular diseases. On the occasion of World Heart Day on September 29, they insist that it is time an intensive drive was taken to educate people of all strata of society on the rising rate of heart diseases that are caused more by lifestyle than by genetic predisposition to these.

Everyone cannot afford the treatment for problems in the heart as it is expensive. “But, we can always afford prevention,” says cardiologist and Medical Director (Super Speciality) of PSG Hospitals J.S. Bhuvaneshwaran. But, the initiative for prevention has to come from within, he points out.

Angioplasty (putting a stent in the heart to overcome the block) costs Rs.1 lakh and upwards. The minimum cost of a coronary artery bypass graft is Rs.1.25 lakh. The cost is almost nothing for preventive cardiology. One saves the cost of cigarettes, alcohol and thereby that of treatment for heart diseases caused by these habits, he explains.

Senior Consultant and Interventional Cardiologist at G. Kuppusamy Naidu Memorial Hospital in Coimbatore Rajpal K. Abhaichand says that if projections show that one-third of the deaths in the country will be caused by heart attack, the sad part of this will be that most of these will be young people. Heart diseases in India occur 10 to 15 years earlier than in the West. “I have performed life-saving angioplasties in several young men in their early 20s and 30s,” he says.

Chairman of K.G. Hospital G. Bakthavathsalam says it is wrong to assume that only elderly persons suffer heart problems. The young are increasingly affected because of high-risk lifestyle.

“Heart attacks kill more than head injuries,” he says, and calls for changes to lifestyle and a regular cardiac check-up. The responsibility of averting a heart attack lies more with individuals than doctors and policy makers. A healthy lifestyle is the essence of prevention. This year's theme – One World, One Home, One Heart – emphasises that the change has to come from every individual home, says Dr. Abhaichand.

Cardiologists across the country are creating awareness on the finding that a majority of cardiac emergencies occur at home and taking action at the first signs of a heart attack is essential to prevent death. Only five to 10 per cent of the patients who have an out of the hospital cardiac attacks survive. This is despite the significant progress made in treatment methods. Therefore, the common man must be taught the basics of cardiac pulmonary resuscitation. Hospitals can team up with social service organisations to do this, says Dr. Abhaichand.

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