The Delhi chapter of the Cardiology Society of India (CSI) is all set to launch an app to help connect patients in the capital city and the NCR region who suffer from heart attack to their nearest hospital. The app that will be available for download soon after its launch on World Heart Day on September 29 will also inform patients of the approximate cost of treatment and traffic congestion enroute the closest facility.
Each year, nearly 30 lakh people suffer from a major heart attack, also known as STEMI or ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, according to CSI. STEMI is a very serious type of heart attack in which one of the heart's major arteries is blocked, and the heart muscles stop receiving oxygen and nutrient-rich blood.
“In such cases, time is crucial. If the patient receives an angioplasty within an hour, there would be no damage to the heart. However, on an average people only end up in the hospital after 8-10 hours. This delay results in damage to the heart muscles, which once dead, can not be revived,” said Dr Sundeep Mishra, Professor of Cardiology, AIIMS, who is working on the app with several other city-based cardiologists.
Despite the high numbers of those who suffer from STEMI, several members of CSI concur that not enough people get the life-saving surgery. Only 1.5 lakh primary angioplasties are done in the country – roughly one in 30 patients who suffer from a major heart attack. According to CSI members, this goes on to reflect that over 28 lakh patients who suffered a major heart attack did not receive the treatment.
In ideal conditions, an angioplasty would be the best treatment, or even a clot buster (dissolving the clot with drugs to restore blood flow) where costs and access to angioplasty was a barrier.
“Awareness about getting the surgery is low in India. Of those who suffer from STEMI, about 8 per cent die. However, if an angioplasty is done, the death rate comes down to about 3 per cent. But people continue to suffer because either they do not understand the symptoms, or do not have enough information on treatment,” said Dr S. Ramakrishnan, Professor, Department of Cardiology, AIIMS.
People also tend to resort to "home treatments" because they confuse the symptoms of a major heart attack with a gastric ailment, say cardiologists.
At a CSI conference in Delhi on Saturday, members of the Delhi chapter of CSI said that while the urban areas were served better by hospitals with angioplasty facilities, more attention needed to be paid to the primary health centres. Primary health centres needed to have an ECG machine (to diagnose STEMI) and access to trained doctors to perform the required procedures, they said.