Puneeth Rajkumar’s heart beat and blood pressure (BP) were normal when he first went to his personal physician B. Ramana Rao around 11.20 a.m. on October 29.
Dr. Rao, who referred him to Vikram Hospitals after noticing a “strain” in his ECG, told The Hindu on Saturday that Puneeth only complained of “weakness” when he came there.
Recalling his last moments with the actor, Dr. Rao said, “He and Ashwini (Puneeth’s wife) got down from the car and came walking into my clinic, which is just three minutes away from their residence. Appu (Puneeth) said he had a little weakness. His blood pressure was 150/92, which is normal. He was sweating profusely and when I asked, he said it was normal as he had exercised and had come straight from the gym.”
He did not have any pain and his heart beat was normal. His lungs were clear. He said he had done his routine workout, boxing, and had taken a little extra steam. “I have been seeing Appu from his childhood and he has never had any health issues. As I heard the word ‘weakness’ for the first time from him, I got worried and did an ECG immediately,” the doctor said.
“The ECG showed a strain. Sensing danger, I told Ashwini to take him to Vikram Hospitals immediately. We helped him into the car and made him lie down on the back seat with his head on her lap. He was taken there in about six minutes, but unfortunately could not be saved. It was a cardiac arrest, where the heart abruptly stops beating, and not a heart attack, where blood flow to the heart stops,” the doctor explained.
Doctors at Vikram Hospitals said the actor was non-responsive and was in cardiac asystole, total cessation of electrical activity from the heart.
Asked if the excessive workout could have resulted in cardiac arrest, Dr. Rao said, “Appu was an example of fitness, happy disposition with positive thoughts. He worked out daily and knew his limits. He did not have any risk factors, did not smoke or consume alcohol and was not on any medication. I thought age was on his side and expected a favourable result. What happened has got nothing to do with his lifestyle.”
Cautioning against high-intensity exercise, Dr. Rao said: “Routine exercise is good. But excessive strenuous exercise done in a short period will cause severe stress and could lead to a rupture in the arteries and resultant blood clot around it. You can go on building your muscles but it is the same heart that pumps blood to all of them... But I do not attribute any of these in Appu’s case,” the doctor said.
‘Appu went like Rajkumar’
Physician B. Ramana Rao recalled that Puneeth’s father, Dr Rajkumar, too had died under similar circumstances. “I had seen him at the last moment. This is history repeating in the same family. Dr. Rajkumar had done his routine exercises by 11.30 a.m. About two hours later, he sat on a sofa and requested for the fan speed to be reduced and collapsed immediately. I was called and reached there in three minutes and tried to resuscitate him. He was rushed to M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital where he was declared dead on April 12, 2006,” the doctor said.