A new lease of life for two AP brothers

CHENNAI OCT. 28. Venkataramana and Venkatasubbiah, two brothers from Cuddapah District in Andhra Pradesh, have just got a new lease on life thanks to a hi-tech electrical device called the `Automatic Implantable Cardioventer Defibrillator' (AICD), which is now regulating their heart beats.

When their brother suddenly died last month, Venkataramana and Venkatasubbiah were screened at the Madras Medical Mission (MMM) and found suffering from `Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy', a serious genetic heart disease that causes sudden deaths among young adults.

Treatment is expensive with each AICD costing between 4 and 8 lakhs. A charitable society in the US donated two devices, costing 8 lakhs each, to the brothers. The MMM also waived implantation and hospital charges making their treatment possible.

At a press conference at the MMM, Consultant Cardiologist, Madhu Sankar, explained how the doctors carried out a complex procedure, `Alcohol Septal Ablation', to rectify an affected artery and also implanted an AICD to regularise Venkatramana's heart rhythm. Consultant Cardiologist, Ulhas M. Pandurangi claimed that it was the first time in India that both procedures were carried out in one patient over the course of a single hospitalisation.

Senior Consultant Cardiologist, Mullasari Ajit, says this disease has "a very low key presentation of symptoms," and said that since it is genetically acquired, close relatives of the patient should be screened. Symptoms are generally acknowledged to be `vague' and include palpitation, giddiness and loss of concentration. The disease is estimated to affect one in every 10,000 persons. In young adults, the frequency is five times higher, he explained.

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