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Maharashtra Government’s STEMI Scheme Saves 6,000 Rural People from Heart Attacks, Deaths

A unique artificial-intelligence powered diagnosis and cardiac care initiative of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government screened over 2.50 lakh people and detected at least 6,000 heart attacks with a turnaround time of just 6 minutes, compared with the ‘golden hour’ of 90 minutes, officials said in Mumbai on Tuesday.

First of its kind in India, the STEMI Maharashtra Programme is endorsed by the Centre’s National Health Mission, and implemented in 12 districts since February 2021, in collaboration with Tricog Health Services Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru.

“In India, the average wait time for patients with ongoing heart attacks is 360 minutes (six hours), a far cry from the golden hour of 90 minutes (one-and-half hour), resulting in high mortality rates. This programme detected more than 6,000 heart attacks with a turnaround time of barely six minutes, allowing the victims to get timely treatment and saved lives,” Tricog CEO Dr. Charit Bhograj said.

Since implementation, it has screened more than 250,000 people in rural areas, to detect heart ailments and other complications to enable timely medical attention and prevent them from becoming victims of cardiac problems, said Dr Bhograj.

Under the programme, the number of heart cases detected and treated are: Pune (998), Nashik (860), Ratnagiri (683), Thane (663), Nanded (615), Kolhapur (500), Nagpur (404), Aurangabad (373), Wardha (346), Solapur (343), Jalna (219), and Akola (140).

As per latest data, Maharashtra has witnessed an increase in cardiovascular diseases among men in 30-40 years and women in the 40-60 age group, while the WHO has estimated that of the 15-30 lakh deaths per year in India, 35 per cent of victims are young adults.

The STEMI Maharashtra Programme was intended to combat this epidemic through an AI-powered advanced diagnosis and care programme which would gradually cover all the 36 districts in the state, to arrest premature deaths and disabilities due to heart problems, said a health department officer, requesting anonymity.

“A total of 145 primary health facilities, including rural Hospitals, sub-District hospitals, district hospitals were upgraded as spokes for STEMI detection and thrombolysis, and are linked with 38 hubs – as the nearest tertiary care facility equipped with a CATH LAB facility for treatment,” said Dr Bhograj.

This helps rapid diagnosis of heart disease in all government centres in the state along with timely treatment by teams of cardiologists at the tertiary care facilities and help save valuable lives, he said.

The strategy adopted by Tricog was to spread awareness among patients with heart disease symptoms of chest pains, breathlessness, palpitations, among others, and approach the nearest government facility without delays.

Then followed a rapid detection using a cloud-connected 12 Lead ECG with 24-hour interpretation of the cases within a few minutes by medical experts, supported by AI and a digital platform for care coordination and analytics.

The system of STEMI management and protocols created by the state Steering Committee comprising top cardiologists, administrators and experts with other agencies ensured the timely transfer and treatment of the patients.

The STEMI Maharashtra Program covers citizens with all types of heart problems, including diagnosis and treatment, under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana, making it a ‘life-saver for the people from the weakest sections of society’, according to Dr. Bhograj.

“Heart attacks can be fatal… Many patients neglect routine checkups or are afraid to seek help. Early diagnosis and treatment can save their livesa People experiencing symptoms like chest tightness, sweating, palpitations, among others, must dial 108 for help,” advised Dr Bhograj.

After the success notched in Maharashtra, the programme has been taken up in Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana with similar plans for other states.

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