Country’s renowned heart surgeon, Dr Naresh Trehan, has developed a new technique that gives a ray of hope to those cardiac patients having 20-25% functioning hearts. In Allahabad to address a conference on heart disease by Vatsalya Hospital and Rotary Allahabad North, the Padma Bhushan awardee spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times on issues related to heart diseases.
What important developments have taken place in the treatment of cardiac ailments?
The biggest development is that now patients with only 20-25% functioning hearts can also live. I have combined four techniques namely PET scan, balloon, beating heart and robotic to operate the patients who are otherwise very risky to be operated upon. The results are very encouraging. The idea is to ‘operate the inoperable’. Medical therapies have also improved. We can now even save the life of 85-90- year-old patients with aortic valve problems. The usual treatment is open heart valve surgery. However, open heart surgery may be considered too risky for them. So we started transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) procedure in which aortic valve is implanted using a long narrow tube called a catheter. It is minimally invasive procedure. But again the cost comes around Rs 20-25 lakh. So, all patients may not be able to afford it.
Are there any new medicines for heart failure patients?
New medicines like Vymada have arrived in the market that is very effective for heart failure patients. The number of heart transplants has also increased due to which we are able to save more lives.
What was the idea behind setting up the integrative medicine department at Medanta and how will it benefit patients?
If we really want to save more people dying of cardiac, cancer and other chronic diseases, we have to combine the benefits of ayurveda, unani and allopathy. With the same goal, we decided to set up this department. The results are overwhelming. We found that herbs like Ashwagandha which has anti-inflammatory property when combined with Arjunchaal, Guglu (both lowers cholesterol and lipid) and allopathic medicines gave very good results for cardiac patients. The herbs strengthen the body while allopathy is good in many other cases. We also managed to bring down the side effects after chemotherapy in cancer patients by combining the ancient and modern medicines. We are on way to clinically proving these medicines. I have also talked to yoga guru Baba Ramdev for formulating new medicines to provide effective cure for chronic diseases.
In the years to come, what is going to be your most significant contribution to address the problems of poor patients?
My first effort is not allowing people to fall sick. Chronic health problems like cardiac diseases, diabetes and even osteoporosis develop over the years. If we check people in pre-diabetic or in a stage when diseases could be reversed, we can save more number of lives and cost of treatment. At Medanta, we are concentrating on preventive aspect of diseases. Likewise, we also work on cross-subsidy basis. The patients who can afford to pay the treatment cost and those who can’t get the subsidy. We also have to strengthen the insurance schemes in our country.