COVID-19 and transformation of cardiac care in India

On World Heart Day 2022, Dr Raajiv Singhal, Founding Member, MD, and CEO, Marengo Asia Healthcare stresses that an encouraging development during the COVID period is the transformation of the whole cardiac care in India by fuelling technological advancements, ranging from AI, advanced algorithms, and predictive analytics to clinical corridors, remote monitoring, and telemedicine

From the beginning of the COVID 19 phase, cardiologists recognised the fact that the pandemic will contribute to deteriorating health in patients suffering from cardiac diseases. The pandemic was set to damage the heart and blood vessels while contributing to increase in developed clots in the heart, heart inflammation, increased arrhythmic patterns and heart failure in the severely ill patients.

The one year of the pandemic on heart patients has revealed that the virus impact can be lasting, and the risks of different heart and vessel maladies have substantially increased in the patients who suffered the consequences of the COVID 19. Cardiologists witnessed a severe outcome of the pandemic effects in increased strokes, cardiac arrests, heart attacks, not only in the veterans suffering from heart diseases but newer cases and younger cases. Healthcare saw the graph change in people who never went to hospitals had suffered some form of malady of the heart during and post the pandemic.

Increase in smoking, obesity, alcohol intake and junk food consumption increased considerably during the pandemic and the lockdown. These were known and yet not acknowledged factors that started to take a toll, even in the younger population. As a new frontier to battle the outcomes, even researchers were unable to estimate and assess how the virus orchestrated a long-term damage of the heart. However, the estimation of cardiovascular risks combined with the constellation of the symptoms like unwarranted fatigue, brain fog, weakness revealed the long-lasting impact of the pandemic.

In the new definition of the pandemic outcomes, doctors witnessed cardiovascular challenges in old with diabetes and ones without diabetes or other co-morbidities, young without and with diabetes, obesity or slim people, people who smoked and the ones who had never smoked. This threw up several challenges in the management of the heart patients for cardiologists.

The risk for heart failures, heart attacks, and strokes have risen by 72 per cent, 63 per cent, and 52 per cent respectively due to COVID-19. A study reveals that after two-three months of recovering from COVID, 78 per cent of recovered people were found to have developed abnormalities in the heart, and close to 60 per cent of COVID-recovered patients had cardinal inflammation. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified sedentary lifestyles with an outcome of a disorder in eating habits as well. Additionally, fear of losing the near and dear ones, job loss, and overall uncertainties and stress that invaded the minds of people during and the pandemic and post-pandemic era, had resulted pushing the envelope further.

Preventive cardiology is a branch that has evolved to treat a wider spectrum of coronary disease risks, understand the factors and curb them and a more focused assessment of patients to identify early risks so that early initiation of interventions can be planned to prevent fatalities.

An encouraging development during the COVID period is the transformation of the whole cardiac care in India by fuelling technological advancements, ranging from artificial intelligence (AI), advanced algorithms, and predictive analytics to clinical corridors, remote monitoring, and telemedicine. The pandemic discouraged patients from hospital visits, and healthcare providers were given an option to leverage digital health infrastructure to ensure accessibility and continuation of treatment, especially for patients with terminal health problems or patients who suffered sudden heart failure or a heart attack even without any kind of underlying significant symptoms. The adoption of smart devices to monitor heart health and other health parameters emerged notably during the pandemic. In the recent times, the newer mechanisms in cardiovascular interventions have proven to be cost-effective, minimally invasive, and have ensured improved patient outcomes. Highly skilled manpower (Consultants, technicians and nurses) aided with increasing network of Cath-labs, and enhanced visualization techniques such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), and Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR) are majorly contributing to revolutionising the space of cardiac treatment in India.

The increased cardiac deaths among youth in the current times has brought to the forefront the importance of proactive heart screening for prevention in the young. Increased incidents of the seemingly physically active and fit youngsters succumbing to premature heart attacks or heart failures has made everyone recognise the urgency of expert opinion and consultation for better heart health and longevity of lives. The pandemic has brought into a sharp focus how healthcare ecosystem can optimise evolution to accommodate multiple options with no compromise to the quality healthcare for patients and save more and more lives through newer methods of treating patients.

cardiac carecardiovascular diseasesheart issuestechnologyWorld Heart Day 2022
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