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Cardiovascular Disease Being Challenged With Current Pros And Cons

“We still haven’t been able to devise any scientific breakthrough to change someone’s genes. Genetics influence heart health too," said Dr T.S. Kler

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India as a nation has the maximum number of people with various heart ailments. According to a report in January 2021, the Global Burden of Disease found that nearly a quarter (24.8 per cent) of all deaths in India is due to CVDs (cardiovascular diseases). Our lifestyles, food habits, stress and now Covid-19 has led to a sharp increase in the number of people in India getting heart attacks or other heart diseases. – this is the intro  

Though the numbers of people suffering from cardiovascular disease are alarming, there is comparatively more awareness now than earlier about CVDs. Back in the day, only the elderly part of the population got heart diseases. Nowadays due to stressful lives and the pandemic Covid-19 pandemic, even young people are experiencing cardiac arrests and other heart diseases. The reasons attributed to the spike in heart ailments include a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress, smoking and consumption of alcohol, lack of proper sleep, and poor nutritional choices. Underlying diseases such as hypertension and diabetes increase the risks in a vast manner.  

Though the number of cases is high, there has been a sharp increase in awareness of the field of cardiology. (repetition) Even younger people are now resorting to good habits to keep their hearts healthy.  

India is doing well in the area of cardiovascular care in terms of an increase of good habits being followed, amalgamated with precautions and treatment. We have got new technology that has come in to curb heart diseases to the best possible extent. New methods have been adopted in giving care to CVD patients. Doctors have ensured that state- of- the- art facilities and equipment are available for patients and also preventive measures through tests and treatment have become prevalent because of digital technology and overall technical knowhow present in the minds of caregivers. The cardiovascular methods have definitely been upgraded. 

Recently, BW Healthcare World of BW Businessworld along with knowledge partner AliveCor conducted a round table discussion with the senior- most cardiologists of the country on the topic of – “Remote Cardiac Monitoring – Way to Save More Lives” as AliveCor introduced its personal electrocardiogram (ECG) technology. The purpose of this discussion was to spread awareness about cardiovascular diseases and how to prevent certain serious conditions through the use of technology. Remote cardiac monitoring is a very beneficial and less time and energy consuming method of going about heart related issues. This is the way ahead and people will have easy access to AI related equipment. Thus there was a detailed discussion on various topics and personal opinions on cardiology and the ailments related to the heart, and how remote cardiac monitoring is going to be useful in saving lives. 

Main causes of heart ailments  

The heart of the matter 

Dr T.S. Kler, Padma Bhushan and Chairman, Fortis Heart and Vascular Institute, Fortis Memorial Research Institute was the session chair spotlighted how hypertension, diabetes and heart related diseases have been increasing over the last few years. He also highlighted that we have lifestyle problems such as consuming junk food, smoking, lack of exercise, stress and even lack of sleep which are triggers for heart disease. Overall, he stressed upon the fact that we have to build awareness levels about heart care and educate the youth as well in a structured manner.  

The main points of the discussion also included his inputs about Arrhythmia – - a condition in which the heart beats with an irregular or abnormal rhythm is a silent killer. Cardiac arrhythmia occurs when electrical impulses in the heart don't function normally. There may be no symptoms, hence it is a silent killer. The symptoms may include a fluttering in the chest, chest pain, fainting or dizziness. If needed, treatment includes anti-arrhythmic drugs, medical procedures, implantable devices and surgery. Dr. Kler mentioned that there are two different types of cases in Arrhythmia – one where people have a heart disease already and two, those who don’t. To prevent it or at the most stop it there is an implantable device which might have to be used planted, if angioplasty or surgery, or even any medication doesn’t work.  

Technology to the rescue 

Dr J.P.S. Sawhney – Senior Consultant and Chairman, Department of Cardiology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital used a device called KardiaMobile to save the life of an elderly lady on a flight. Hence, it is clearly visible that technology can also contribute to saving lives. Telemedicine has seen a rapid rise due to the pandemic and this was possible only through technology. People could consult experts and hence telemedicine played a huge role in stabilising people’s fears and uncertainty along with giving patients immediate and useful attention.  

Education plays a big role in healthcare and cardiology 

Raising a very important point, Dr Subhash Chandra, Chairman and HOD Cardiology, BLK – Max Super Specialty Hospital stated, “We need to educate people about heart-related issues as the mass public needs awareness. The onus lies on us to educate society. That is why we as a fraternity have been doing programmes on television and radio, along with conducting meetings and social gatherings.” The discussion was about the importance of health education in schools and universities. Also how telemedicine has seen a rapid rise due to the pandemic.  

Homecare – pros and cons 

Diving right into the concept of homecare, Dr Sunil Dwivedi, Consultant Cardiologist, Manipal Hospital, Millers Road, Bengaluru gave his opinion by saying, “Regular monitoring of vitals at home can be a double-edged sword. If you promote it at the mass level then the cost-benefit ratio or the convenience-benefit ratio may not fit in. It should be in some parts of the population only.” Basically, according to him, whilst regular monitoring of vitals at home is a good practice, it should be present for the elderly part of the population. Therefore, the youth should not indulge in this practice on a large scale. There should be a method of practising it in an organised manner keeping all the points in mind to maintain a balance in the cost-benefit ratio. 

Explain this more or add a few more lines here. While awareness and self-care is important, too much …. (this is just an example. Please add a few more lines)   

The importance of proper training physicians to handle basic cardiac issues for emergencies 

Talking about experienced doctors handling cardiac issues, Dr Rakesh Rai Sapra, Senior Consultant and Director Cardiology, QRG Super Specialty Hospital, Faridabad said that “ECG interpretation and diagnosis is something where a large majority of physicians actually shy away from because it is a bit tricky. You have to spend some time to understand this and even in cardiology, all cardiologists don’t try to interpret it. We need some time to teach general physicians or set basic protocols if they have patients coming in with heart-related issues.”

 On a slightly different note, according to Dr Bipin Kumar Dubey, HOD and Consultant Cardiac Sciences, Manipal Hospitals, Delhi, “The severity of the symptoms is not directly related to the severity of the disease. Most of the time cardiac heaviness or discomfort is not a serious heart-related issue.” 

The doctors said that some people due to lack of awareness/education don’t even get to know when they might be having cardiovascular issues beginning in them. Strokes are very common in India and the solution is to create awareness and encourage good habits in terms of diet and lifestyle, and also a new era of knowledge is needed critically. There are no clear guidelines in medicine and every adult should get an annual medical check-up along with getting their blood pressure checked every six months. Such habits encourage good heart health and keep us healthy and hale and hearty. 


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Magazine 30 July 2022