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Heart to heart connection

Mangaluru doctor starts ‘Cardiology At Doorsteps’, Whatsapp group to take cardiac care to patients in rural areas

Published: 19th September 2021 04:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2021 11:59 AM   |  A+A-

A patient undergoes an ECG inside a KSRTC mobile ICU unit at Bantwal. The CAD Foundation has partnered with Bantwal MLA Rajesh Naik for this project | Express

Express News Service

CHITRADURGA: In 2014, Dr Padmanabha Kamath, an interventional cardiologist, professor and head of the Cardiology Department at Kasturba Medical College, Mangaluru, helplessly watched a young man die after a massive cardiac arrest because of delayed diagnosis. The only fault of the youngster was that he was from Karnataka’s rural hinterlands that did not have proper medical care.

The heart-rending episode so moved Dr Kamath that he decided to provide at least basic cardiac care to the rural people. It transpired into action, which led to setting up of Cardiology At Doorsteps (CAD) Foundation in 2018. He also created a WhatsApp group with 150 members and installed ECG (electrocardiography) machines at Public Health Centres (PHCs) and private clinics in rural parts of Mangaluru.

The active group started advising and assisting patients through the WhatsApp group after identifying heart ailments. The project grew by leaps and soon, Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras and Anganwadis too were included under its umbrella. ECG reports were taken at their facilities and put up on the WhatsApp group which were analysed by the group’s members within minutes saving a number of lives within the precious ‘golden hour’, Dr Kamath said.

“After witnessing the youngster succumbing to a heart disease due of delayed diagnosis, I decided to collect the data of village hospitals, Jan Aushadhi Kendras, Anganwadis and doctors, including AAYUSH and Ayurvedic physicians. I trained them to use ECG machines, prepare reports and forward them to the group. We started prescribing medicines that were available in rural areas. The group also trained healthcare professionals to provide first-aid to those suffering from cardiac problems,” he said.

“The fact is, more than 80 per cent of heart patients can be saved if first-aid is given immediately after ECG reports indicate heart issues. But in rural areas, lack of proper diagnosis and shortage of ECG facilities has led to many deaths,” Dr Kamath added.

After an ECG report is posted in the Whatsapp group, members go through it and prescribe the line of treatment immediately. In case of an emergency, an alert is sent to health professionals to give first-aid to cardiac patients, he said.

The Foundation aims to cover over 50 lakh people in Karnataka and Kerala by this year-end. It has installed 415 ECG machines at rural health centres and Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras in remote parts of 20 districts in the State. The Foundation has formed two separate WhatsApp groups for outstation patients and jawans. It also recently launched a dedicated website and 24-hour cardiac helpline.

“Many people, especially underprivileged and elderly patients, are refusing to go to hospital because of fears of Covid. The website and round-the-clock dedicated cardiac helpline will help overcome these fears in treating patients,” he said.

Mann Ki Baat
Recalling his interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ‘Mann ki Baat’, he said, “That motivated me to spread cardiac care among more people in rural areas.” After the success of CAD in Karnataka, Dr Kamath plans to replicate the model under the name ‘Project Punarjeevan’ in other states.

New project
To change the quality of cardiac care in Karnataka, the Foundation has initiated the project CAD-GAP, where 40 gram panchayats and Anganawadis in the State have been roped in and given ECG machines. It has also distributed over 1,500 cardiac enzyme kits to help train rural volunteers to provide first-aid to cardiac patients. “CAD-GAP is working well and we want to take it forward in a big way so that lives are saved within the golden hour,” Dr Kamath said.

20,000 Lives saved

50,000 ECG reports posted on two CAD-run WhatsApp groups have been checked

5,000+ Cardiac-related cases diagnosed



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