The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, for the first time, has decided to initiate referral system for patients with heart attack or stroke symptoms in district hospitals through the National Health Mission. Under the project, doctors at district hospitals are being trained to perform a cardiac intervention and thrombolysis after identifying patients with impending heart attack symptoms and referring them to tertiary care centers. Thrombolysis pertains to administration of drugs intravenously to offset blood clotting that could lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Senior officials in the ministry said nearly 24 lakh Indians die every year due to ischemic heart diseases, making it the biggest cause of death in the country. “So far, there is no system at government hospitals in districts to help such patients, who are rushed to the nearest major hospital in big towns, thereby losing out on the crucial golden hour which costs lakhs of lives,” a senior official told this newspaper.
“Through this scheme, we are trying to fill this lacuna. The hospitals will be equipped with medicines and trained doctors to carry out the procedure which allows such patients time of at least 24 hours before they can undergo angiography or heart surgeries in specialty hospitals.” The government has estimated that for every person, the cost of the procedure will be Rs 1,700 and a total estimate will be prepared following inputs from states. The scheme has already been tried on a pilot basis in a few districts in Tamil Nadu and Goa and will be rolled out in other states in the coming financial year. A study released by the Lancet last year said the prevalence of heart disease and stroke has increased by over 50 percent from 1990 to 2016 in India. – New Indian Express