Over the last 10 days, I treated many patients suffering from heart attacks. Let me share some patient stories:
Mr. Singh a 76-year male presented with worsening breathlessness of 7 days duration. To my utter surprise, he was not even allowed to enter two top hospitals in the city. As breathlessness worsened his son became worried and found my services being available in COVID times on Google. He got admitted and I could save his life by performing angioplasty and stent procedure.
Mr. Mujeeb, a 45-year plumber presented with chest pain and breathlessness. When he arrived he was in a serious condition and we had to intubate and put him on a ventilator. Thanks to the training sessions at our hospital my emergency room doctors have been well trained on how to intubate and ventilate them safely without risk to the staff members. I did a 2-vessel angioplasty for him as an emergency and he got discharged 3 days after angioplasty.
Mr. Keerti, a 27-year software engineer was experiencing abdominal distension and excessive burping for around 10 days. He met a gastroenterologist who got a blood test – high sensitivity Troponin and ECG and endoscopy. Both ECG and endoscopy were normal. But his Troponin levels were elevated. He tried his luck at three hospitals nearer to his home, which is 25 km from my hospital, but none of them had a Cardiologist. He tried multiple medicines without improvement. One of his friends suggested my name and he met me. His angiogram showed a large chunk of a blood clot in one of the major arteries supplying the heart. I did fix the lesion with a stent at a huge discount considering his age and limited financial ability.
Mr. Narasimha from Medaram was suffering from chest pain and he underwent angiogram at Warangal. He had blocks in all 3-vessels supplying the heart and was suggested bypass surgery. He approached me for a solution for his problem. I did a special test called iFR and realized that one of the blocks is non critical and does not need treatment. So by doing iFR we could avoid major bypass surgery and treat him by a simple stent procedure for two vessels.
Lessons learnt by me were:
- Doctors need to modify way of working in COVID era
- Patients suffering from cardiac problems are afraid to come to hospital. They should be cautious but not afraid.
- People should not ignore symptoms such as breathlessness or chest discomfort on exertion, heaviness in chest, excessive sweating, constriction in throat, and distension of abdomen with chest discomfort. These could be due to heart problem.
- As doctors our job is to treat patients and save lives. We should not avoid patients but instead be more accessible during these challenging times
- Closure of hospitals across India is causing innumerable hardships to patients and they are unable to find a doctor who can offer services at this time.
- Training of staff and colleagues as well as availability of PPEs promote self confidence in front line doctors and allows them to treat patients as during normal times.
- While we fight coronavirus, we need to combat perceptions that everyone else must stay away from the hospital. More people may die if patients and doctors avoid care for life-threatening, yet treatable, conditions like heart attacks and strokes.