Early in August, popular comedian and actor Raju Srivastava, 58, collapsed while exercising at a Delhi gym. In the last week of the month, the news came that economist Abhijit Sen, 72, succumbed to heart failure. In May this year, playback singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, died in Kolkata at the relatively young age of 53.
Hearing of such incidents makes people uneasy, wondering at the high incidence of heart disease in India. To get some insights into this health issue, Patriot interacted with Dr Tejas M Patel, chairman and chief interventional cardiologist at Apex Heart Institute, Ahmedabad, and medical advisor at Agatsa, Noida.
What is a heart attack?
The deposition of fat inside the arteries supplying the heart muscles and that fat deposition goes on increasing…ultimately, it makes the lumen of the arteries narrow and that leads to some compromise in the blood in the distal part of the heart muscle, causing angina (chest pain due to reduced blood flow to the heart). If that part ruptures because of some stimulus like anxiety, stress, among others, there will be a rough surface that will lead to clot formation and the artery will occlude completely…so one gets confronted with a heart attack.
What are the risk factors?
The common risk factors remain the same…like genetic predisposition, smoking, tobacco consumption, diabetes, blood pressure issues, lipid disturbances and stress.
Why are more young people becoming victims of this fatal event?
I think the intensity of stress and peer pressure among young generation is increasingly common these days. Smoking among women has gone up. Also, childhood obesity, which in turn leads to many other metabolic disorders, has escalated.…all this combined with bad food habits, especially eating junk food, has shifted the whole paradigm to younger and younger generations.
What makes patients ignore the early signs?
With advancement and modernisation, the treatment modality is so good that many times people are becoming overconfident that if something gets wrong, they will get themselves treated rather than thinking on the prevention aspect. I feel in the whole scenario, the prevention aspect is being completely forgotten. Maintaining good habits, periodically measuring blood pressure, sugar level, lipid level are all so important and any change should not be ignored.
People are like ‘I can’t have a heart attack or heart problem.’ They usually think it’s acidity, muscular pain or something else, when they encounter angina.
Do we have easily accessible devices to monitor our heart health?
Thankfully, we do. Devices like portable ECG machines, which can be kept in the pocket, are available. One can now easily take one’s own ECG and send it to the doctor through WhatsApp. If at all, there is a problem, one can easily know without a time lag and get it fixed.
Can we rely on such devices?
Of course, validation has been done and they are highly accurate.
As a firm believer of the Make in India initiative, I recommend the use of handy ECG machines like the one manufactured by Agatsa. These are great to keep check of one’s heart health. One can be easily trained on using the device by just following the video or instructions on the manual. It’s very simple and cost-effective.
Will this gadget gain popularity at par with oximeters?
Oximeters, on one hand, have been in vogue during the pandemic where the problem is with oxygenation of the lungs. But this ECG device could be used in everyday life.
What are its technical specifications?
SanketLife 2.0 is the world’s smallest and only keychain-sized 12 lead ECG device. Priced at Rs 2,500, the device is available on Amazon and Agatsa websites. It is one of its kind Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (iOT) driven platform by Agatsa. The pocket-sized ECG machines have proven to be a phenomenal success, for they make it possible to perform complete ECG tests, prepare reports and analyse and get a cardiologist’s review, all within 10 minutes.
Do heart attacks always show signs?
No, some heart attacks come unannounced, without displaying any abrupt signs. Sometimes, it is a 40-50% clot, which does not give you angina. However, that clot can rupture if it’s vulnerable and have lots of fat deposition, causing what we call a silent heart attack.
Are heart attacks preventable?
Of course, with lifestyle modification. One cannot prevent genetic predisposition if one has acquired genes from vulnerable parents. However, one has some control over choosing the spouse.
There are so many reversible factors, like a person can stop smoking, cut down on tobacco consumption, have a healthy diet, make exercise a part of routine, follow stress management, keep check of the weight. All this definitely will have a tremendous impact in long-term prevention and delaying the occurrence of heart attack. One can thus look forward to creating a healthy society.
What are the early signs to look out for?
Any abnormal sensation in the region of the heart, on the central part of the chest — precordium — and around, particularly after the age of 40 should not be ignored. It is always a good idea to get yourself checked by a doctor. The doctor will take history, may recommend doing ECG, blood investigation. Any major problem, before it does any damage, can be sorted out.
What is the key message?
This is the time that the whole world needs to understand that things are moving very fast and with that, the solutions of the problems are developing swiftly. Heart problems are upsurging exponentially, so we should not solely rely on modern treatments but pay tremendous emphasis on the primary prevention of heart problems.
All those who have already suffered from heart problems should emphasize on secondary prevention of heart problems.
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