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No lockdown for heart health amidst COVID-19

Cardiologists are using the latest technology for the best patient outcome in this hour of crisis so that the healthcare system continues to lift the CVD burden from India.

Health Desk Health Desk
New Delhi Published on: August 12, 2020 16:04 IST
No lockdown for heart health amidst COVID-19
Image Source : FILE IMAGE

No lockdown for heart health amidst COVID-19

Far from waning, the pandemic has opened our eyes to the fact that prioritizing the health of non-COVID patients is as important as battling the virus itself. As per reports, hospitals around the world including India have witnessed 50 percent decrease in patients with heart problems. Now, these statistics become particularly critical at a time like this, when lockdowns and overcrowded hospitals fighting the pandemic have restricted access to many facilities.

Many patients are already ignoring symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, cold sweat and lightheaded-ness as they refrain from visiting the hospital due to the fear of contracting the virus. This delay in prognosis can be fatal for people suffering from Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), as the disease requires immediate medical attention. Know everything you should know about heart health from Dr. Subhash Chandra, Chairman and HOD – Cardiology, BLK Heart Centre.

One should be vigilant about any signs while staying at home. If you feel weak or have shortness of breath after mild physical exertion, these could be signs of blockage. Hence, you need to rush to the hospital where, to check for blockage, the doctor will review your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and likely order an electrocardiogram. 

CAD is the narrowing of coronary arteries due to deposition of fat, cholesterol, platelets, and calcium which reduces the blood flow to the heart. When plaque builds up on the wall of the arteries, it stops the supply of the blood to the heart (called coronary arteries). Over the years, breakthroughs in medical science have helped us address the CAD burden with devices like heart stents, which help reduce the symptoms in patients with obstructive arteries. 

With the increased prevalence of lifestyle diseases and work-related stress, complexities in treatment of coronary artery disease is increasing. Mostly hospitals observe repeat footfalls of patients who had undergone angioplasties and would come back for repeat procedure. 

Now, today, as we find ourselves in the middle of the pandemic, even with all these advancements available to people, we are seeing a decline in the number of heart patients frequenting the hospitals. At a time when we are burdened by both communicable and non-communicable diseases, it becomes crucial for us to be updated of the latest treatment options available to manage heart conditions. 

In this pandemic situation it is essential that we leverage latest generation technologies available for minimally invasive coronary intervention for opening of blocked arteries in the heart ensuring better procedural outcomes to patients & also decrease their repeat visits to hospitals.

With new advancements in technology for treating artery blockages in the heart, it is advisable to use products such as drug eluting stents which are well studied in a broad spectrum of patients across countries, have clinical data of at least 10000+ patients and are USFDA approved. Today, we have a range of new generation Platinum Chromium cardiac stents catering to all kinds of complex cases and patient needs. 
It is also possible to optimize the procedural results further by usage of coronary imaging modalities like IVUS which allows the physician to see inside the blood vessel and place the stent at the most optimum location. Optimizing coronary PCI results in one go will further reduce the chance of repeat procedures during this pandemic spread.
It is imperative to spread awareness and ensure the best prognosis reaches every patient. Additionally, CAD can be prevented by making the following lifestyle changes— 
  • Quit smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels, raises the heart rate, lowers the oxygen supply to the heart and damages the lungs.
  • Exercise regularly: Maintain a healthy weight that can indirectly improve CAD by lowering the blood pressure and cholesterol level, making the heart stronger.
  • Reduce stress: Stress can increase blood pressure and damage the artery walls. Therefore, choosing a relaxation technique such as meditation, practicing yoga, deep breathing or listening to music while walking can help.
  • Watch your diet: Food items that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk of CAD as these foods contribute in building up of plaque. Therefore, eating a low-fat and low-salt diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is recommended. 
Living with CAD means being aware of the risks and reducing the ones that can be controlled. With the surrounding peril, while patients fear hospital visits, it is important to speak to your doctor about your condition and get the relevant advice. If lifestyle changes are not enough, ask the doctor about medications to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level.



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