Online consultations for cardiology grew by 350% in the last six months, as per Practo Insights.
More than 30% of the queries were from people residing in non-metro cities. Most of the queries were on “How COVID-19 affects heart patients?” and “What are symptoms one should look out for in case of heart attacks?”. More often than not, the patients ignore early signs of cardiac distress like pain in the back or shoulders or tightness of chest accompanied by nausea, cold sweat, weakness or shortness of breath. Some of such cardiac signs may seem generic and be passed-off as trivial concerns. Yet, if ignored over a period of time, basic symptoms can result in fatal cardiac conditions. This indicates a need for mass awareness amongst patients and clinicians.
Sooner a patient seeks professional help, the efficiency and effectiveness in the diagnosis and treatment is dramatically higher. Procrastination from the patients’ side has been majorly due to the perceived inconvenience in accessing healthcare at large and the fear of contracting the Coronavirus – especially in the last six months. However, digital healthcare has provided patients with a potent solution to seek help instantly with a verified doctor 24×7.
According to Indian Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of mortality and a silent epidemic among Indians claiming nearly three million lives every year. Unfortunately, our country has the highest number of heart disease patients across the world and contributes to a massive six crore people being newly diagnosed every year. As the numbers are still on an exponential rise, various studies have claimed that people with pre-existing heart conditions have a 11.6 % higher risk of mortality due to the COVID infection. The biggest reason for people losing their lives due to heart ailments in India is attributed to lack of awareness about the prevailing condition and the reluctance or delay in seeking adequate medical attention. Hence, it becomes all the more important to understand these cardiac symptoms and seek timely help.
Heart disease is a chronic medical condition that needs meticulous management. A patient once diagnosed, requires holistic treatment including immediate medical attention, lifestyle modification, consistent and long term monitoring and in most cases a lifetime of oral medication. Digitisation makes every step of this process convenient and simple for the patient and the doctor. Patients can now reach doctors virtually anywhere and anytime to get timely advice and help instead of relying on self-diagnosis. For the patient, there are apps like Practo which help with online and offline appointments, diagnostics, and medicine delivery.
–Inputs from Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo
Dr Rajpal Singh R.L, Director, Cardiology, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, also consults on Practo added “During these pandemic times, it is important for patients with heart conditions to take extra care and follow all prescribed medications regularly. Strict adherence to a healthy diet, abstaining from excess alcohol intake, smoking cessation, regular exercise are pillars on which one can build a lower risk profile. One must remember that viruses like COVID-19 will only increase the risk in patients who already have heart related ailments. Hence, it becomes necessary to follow all precautions including frequent sanitization, wearing masks and staying away from people who have COVID-19. The golden rule when it comes to heart diseases is that shorter the time in seeking help, higher the chances of the heart muscle being saved. This will in turn result in lesser irreversible damage, and a lower risk to life while providing better short term as well as long term outcomes.”