Twenty two-year-old Rahul Agarwal* was at home one day when he felt the constrictive angina pains. Being an occupational therapist and a diabetic, he knew the symptoms of heart disease and the fact that diabetes put him in the 'high-risk' category. He immediately rushed to the hospital and had an angioplasty performed. This was two years ago, and Rahul is now hail and hearty, leading a perfectly normal life.
Rahul was lucky, and well informed. That is what saved his life that fateful day when his heart went into a cardiac arrest. Most of us don't even know all the symptoms, and are likely to take them lightly even if we do know about them. This is the primary reason that most people don't get medical help in time, which is even more tragic when you consider the fact that if they did, the effects of a heart attack can be almost nullified.
Another young patient, Ricky Martin, who lives in Tamil Nadu, is a 25-year-old marketing executive who recently suffered a heart attack in a church in Kerala. Since he had always been healthy, and had no family history of heart disease, at first he thought it was a severe gas and acidity problem. However, when the symptoms still hadn't subsided after a few hours, the other church-goers rushed Ricky to the hospital, where he found he had just had a heart attack!
Today, Ricky's heart functions at only 20 percent of its capacity, which means he should ideally be admitted to a hospital and undergo treatment. He is also on a heart transplant list, but unfortunately cannot afford the Rs 15 lakh medical bills that he will need to pay for a new heart.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Text: Insiyah Vahanvaty | Inputs: Dr Manjeet Juneja | Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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