When Chandu Pandya first blacked out at his residence a couple of months ago, doctors dismissed it as general weakness. But he soon complained of shortness of breath and congestion in lungs, before developing serious cardiac ailments, which gave him little chance of survival.
A few days ago, Pandya’s name was added to the city’s medical history books when he became the first cardiac patient from eastern India to receive an Implantible Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) — a new medical device capable of treating three heart problems, including prevention of sudden death by automatic detection and treatment of life-threatening rhythm disturbances, and resynchronisation of the heart to improve its pumping.
Explaining the procedure, Anil Mishra, clinical director of BM Birla Heart Research Centre, who implanted the device in Pandya, said the 71-year-old patient was diagnosed with serious heart complications and was right for the implantation of the new device.
“Apart from rhythm disturbances and pump failure, Pandya also lost consciousness and had an abnormal heart condition, known as trifascicular block (multiple heart block). His was a very difficult case to handle,” said Mishra.
Patients like Pandya, who are categorised in the Class IV (heart patients are rated from Class I to IV, according to complications), are increasing by leaps and bounds. These patients, according to Mishra, do not satisfactorily respond to medication and continue to deteriorate to such an extent that the heart fails to pump blood and rhythm disturbances within the organ increase a lot.
At least 60 per cent of heart patients with severe complications may not respond to medication, and remain symptomatic to heart diseases and eventually die from pump failure and cardiac arrest, making them the most likely candidates for an ICD implant, feel city-based cardiologists.
Usually, such patients are given pacemaker implants, but with the arrival of the new device, the machine will do the job of a pacemaker and resynchronise the heart and prevent sudden death by automatically delivering electrical therapy, apart from curing rhythm disturbances seconds after detecting them.
This matchbox-size device was implanted in Pandya’s chest and the follow-up treatment showed that the blackouts and rhythm disturbances had disappeared completely. He was also feeling much better and is likely to resume work soon. “This new device will not only reduce deaths from heart failures, but can also improve the quality of life of patients with heart failures, allowing them to lead a normal life,” Mishra added.