Docs devise method that gives more time to treat heart attack

For years, cardiologists Dr Thom as Alexander and Dr Ajit Mullasari had found the increasing number of heart attack deaths worrying since these were casualties that could have been prevented by giving the patient specialised care on time.
To save more lives, they decided to test the `hub and spoke’ model of healthcare four years ago. In this, smaller hospitals or spokes initiate primary treatment and stabilise patients before referring them to tertiary care centres or hubs.
“Damage can be prevented if the block in the patient’s blood vessel is removed within three hours after symptoms surface,” said Dr Mullasari, a senior cardiologist based in Chennai. In India, the average time to get specialised care is more than five hours and the key to reduce deaths was to cut the time taken to offer treatment, he said.
Heart attack is the biggest killer in the country . More than 30 million attacks occur every year and less than 25,000 people undergo angioplasty. When patients go to smaller centres, they are given drug therapy and consult a bigger facility because either they cannot afford treatment or the hospital is very far.
In 2012, the doctors formed STEMI India to continue this work and have been testing the model in Tamil Nadu.”During the study, we brought down deaths due to heart attacks and improved treatment outcomes among patients who lived,” said Dr Thomas Alexander from Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital, Coimbatore.

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