Mumbai: An artificial intelligence-aided programme to detect and tackle heart attacks within the golden hour has taken off across 12 districts in Maharashtra. In the making since 2020, as part of a national plan to reduce cardiac deaths, it has helped diagnose nearly 2,200 heart attacks in little over a year.
The ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) project is aimed at picking up heart attacks in individuals who come to public health centres with acute chest pain.
The implementation is through a ‘hub and spoke model, where the ‘spoke’ centres such as sub-districts and rural hospitals would detect and treat at its level, or link the patient to a ‘hub’ centre such as a tertiary private hospital or medical college for further management. Currently, 145 spoke, and 38 hub centres have been readied for the programme.
At the heart of the project is a simple electrocardiogram (ECG) test, whose findings are instantly uploaded and relayed on the CardioNet application, created by a Bangalore-based firm tricog. In the instance of ECG picking up a myocardial infarction, the application sends an alert to the medical team at the health facility and CardioNet doctors. Till now, over 2,45,438 ECGs have been carried out, which helped in signalling 2,175 heart attacks and over 6,000 abnormal ECGs, as per public health department data.
N Ramaswamy, commissioner, National Health Mission, said ischemic heart diseases contribute to nearly 12% of deaths, as shown in Global Burden of Disease data compared to about 5.2% in the 90s. He said STEMI saved several young lives, and the state intends to scale it up in a big way by training more healthcare workers and facilities.
STEMI is a serious cardiac event with a greater risk of complications and death. When there’s an elevation in the ST segment as shown in ECG, that often means a total blockage of one of the heart’s main supply arteries. Thane, Pune, Wardha, Nagpur, Aurangabad, and Kolhapur are some districts where the project is being run at selected centres, said Dr Padmaja Jogewar, joint director of non-communicable disease cell. She said nurses and doctors at spoke centres are being trained to dissolve the clot by injecting medicines.
The life of a 35-year-old, who came to Wardha civic hospital with severe chest pain, was saved in January due to STEMI, said Dr Madhuri Nimsatkar, district programme manager. The pain forced the young man to approach the hospital. After the ECG picked up an elevated ST, he was shifted to a hub centre, and he was saved, she said.