Thursday, Sep 29, 2022
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Blocked Artery Declogged

4G after 18 months brings cheer, but no assurance that it won’t be snapped again

Blocked Artery Declogged

Messaging apps of ­cardiologists in Kashmir are abuzz with texts from doctors seeking advice on treatment of heart ailments. The Doctors Association of Kashmir claims this winter saw a 53 per cent rise in heart attacks. “Restoration of high-speed internet has made it easier for doctors to seek expert advice by making video calls or uploading ECGs quickly,” says Dr Irfan Ahmad, a cardiologist at Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar. Dr Ahmad is a member of the Save Heart Initiative, a WhatsApp-based network that enables cardiologists to suggest lines of treatment to doctors in both rural and urban areas in Kashmir after looking at ECGs. “With 4G internet back, we can ­demonstrate basic lifesaving procedures to doctors through video calls,” says one of its founders, Dr Imran Hafeez, a senior consultant at the cardiology department of Srinagar’s Sher-e-­Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences.

Around 38,000 ECGs were ­examined and 1,000 cases of major heart attacks detected between November 2017, when the Save Heart initiative was launched, and August 4, 2019, when the communication blockade of J&K began a day ahead of the abrogation of Article 370. More than 1,200 doctors from 130 ­hospitals across the erstwhile state, mostly from places where specialists are unavailable, participated in the initiative. “4G access is of great value to doctors and patients in areas cut off from the rest of the Valley,” says Dr Ahmad. “With ­expert advice just a video call away, minor emergencies could be treated at rural hospitals too, minimising ­unnecessary referrals to tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar and reducing the pressure on them.”

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