Doorstep Electrocardiography for the rural populace

Inadequacy in providing electrocardiography (ECG) facilities and delay in diagnosis is leading to deaths in a majority of heart attack cases in rural areas of India. Padmanabha Kamath, Interventional Cardiologist, Head of the Cardiology Department at Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore has formed ‘Cardiology at Doorstep’ (CAD), a WhatsApp group with 150 members, to install ECG machines in PHCs and private clinics in rural areas to help identify heart-related problems and provide assistance over the popular social network application WhatsApp.

Doctors at these PHCs and private clinics record ECG and transmit it on the WhatsApp group. Kamath and Manish Rai, another cardiologist from Mangalore, provide opinion on the ECGs posted on these groups.

According to reports, the CAD initiative has distributed and installed 105 ECG machines in PHCs and private clinics. It has covered around 15 lakh people in rural areas of eight districts in Karnataka.

More than 3,500 ECGs were reported in the WhatsApp groups, and about 980 cases of heart ailments were detected. Kamath said that 80% of heart patients could be saved if timely first aid is provided. Kamath said CAD hopes to install 250 ECG machines by 2020 in Karnataka and the neighbouring districts in Kerala, that will around 50 lakh people. He plans to replicate this model under the name ‘Project Punarjeevan’ in other States and is in talks with like-minded cardiologists.

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