12 April 2009
“The window of best opportunity (to save a patient) is the first 60 minutes. A delay of 300 minutes could mean severe damage to heart muscles, sometimes irreparable. There is an urgent need to educate people on this.”
Bangalore-based specialist Dr Denis Xavier, who was part of the study published in Lancet, says 90% of hospitals in India delays even first-aid for several reasons. “Even after the person reaches a hospital, there is an average delay of 50 minutes,” says Dr Xavier.
The study,which covered 21,000 heart-attack victims admitted in 89 hospitals in 50 cities across India, attributes poverty to delay in getting medical treatment. “The life-saving ‘clog buster’ costs only Rs 2,500,but many may not have that money ready. Several hospitals delay the administration of even first-aid till the victim pays for it,” says Dr Xavier.
According to Dr S. Thanikachalam, head of cardiac care unit at Sri Ramachandra University,nearly 40% of people die even before they reach a hospital for treatment. Last year, at least 33% of deaths in Chennai were due to cardiac diseases. More than 75% of heart attack victims are not covered by medical insurance.
Chennai-based cardiothoracic surgeon Dr KM Cherian says a majority of patients can be saved if they contact a cardiologist in time. “It’s important to meet a cardiologist within the first 15 minutes of the attack. Patients should take an aspirin in water before they call the ambulance,” he says. TNN