The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bad heart death count highest in Calcutta

Anju Roy, a 53-year-old housewife, suffered a sudden blackout last winter. She was rushed to hospital, where her heart rate was found to have dropped drastically, as she slipped into coma. She was shifted to a heart hospital, where a series of tests was followed by a pacemaker implantation. Roy pulled through, saved by the swift action.

But, according to a recent survey, carried out by the Calcutta Health Support Group (CHSG), one in every three cases of heart failure in the city succumbs to the malady. This, says the survey, is the highest death count ratio among all metros.

Also, warns the CHSG, about 82 per cent of Calcuttans are either suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure or acute myocardial infarction.

But what is more alarming is that only 17 per cent are aware of their cardiac condition till they are ‘hit’. The awareness level is much higher in other metros, thus allowing precautionary measures to be taken.

Sunil Lhila, senior interventional cardiologist in Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, says: “Most patients we get here have already been hit with major cardiac problems, leaving hardly any room for recovery. If the people are a little more aware and sincere about their health in general, and heart in particular, the mortality rate can be drastically reduced with the help of advanced treatment.”

Lhila points out that while in Delhi or Mumbai, a cardiologist gets enough time to either perform an angioplasty or implant a pacemaker, in Calcutta, one hardly has any time to “perform the required surgery and get the patient out of danger”.

The CHSG study pegs cardiac-scare awareness at over 60 per cent in Mumbai and 68 per cent in Delhi. “The lack of communication with doctors often plays a major role in the sudden and fatal heart attacks in many cases in Calcutta. If the people are a little more aware and get themselves tested on a regular basis after they cross 30, the fatality count can drop sharply,” a CHSG campaigner said.

Lhila points out that the food habits and lifestyle in Calcutta also raise the risk of cardio-vascular diseases. “Also, though tobacco consumption is on the wane in other metros, here it is, unfortunately, increasing, adding to the health hazard,” says Lhila.

A patient, when detected with a cardiac problem, should immediately seek modern medical aid. “Angioplasty or pacemaker implant is a painless exercise and a patient can lead a normal life without being threatened by a sudden heart attack. Give us time to give your life back,” urged Lhila.

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