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NEW DELHI: Eighty-one-year-old Begum Rawshan Ara was unhappy. Her chest pain was getting worse by the day, her appetite was failing her and her mobility had got restricted. She could hardly finish a sentence without becoming breathless.
When several visits to cardiologists at Dhaka’s Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital failed to bring her any relief, her daughter Najmun Nahar decided to bring her to India.
Today, she talks nineteen to a dozen, walks around without panting for breath and smiles incessantly.
Begum Rawshan Ara, who underwent an angioplasty by cardiologist Dr Ashok Seth at Max Hospital, told TOI: “I haven’t felt so alive in a long time. Life had become terrible. Everytime I lied down there was pain in my chest. So I used to keep sitting, day and night. Today I feel 40 years younger.”
She is among the many octogenarians, who are now braving a heart procedure with successful outcomes, instead of living the final years of their life in pain and isolation. Till now, both doctors and family members dismissed them as ˜Inka kuch nahi ho sakta (nothing can be done about them). A common perception prevailed that any procedure of the heart in the 80 and 90-year-olds was fraught with risk.
In truth, the risk factor of an angioplasty in the elderly is marginally different from that in the younger population. The complication rate or mortality due to angioplasty in the young is 0.4% and 0.8% in patients above 80 years old. “A number of studies have shown that angioplasty provides better quality of life and safety than medication alone,” Dr Seth said.
In a study of 2,000 patients with blocked arteries, presented by him at the recently concluded European Cardiology Congress at Vienna, Dr Seth showed how not a single death was reported due to the procedure even though 65% of the patients had multiple blockages and stents while 20% were in the extremely serious category. Over 94% reported an improved quality of life.
“Elderly patients have long suffered because either they themselves or their family members feared undergoing any heart procedures. In reality, data from several studies endorse that angioplasty is safe. It’s better than leading a doomed life,” Dr Seth said. “The more you tie down an elderly person, the faster he or she will wither away. Let them be active and they will live longer and happier,” he said.
According to the 2006 World Population Prospects by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, by 2050, the number of Indians aged above 80 will increase from 78 lakh at present to nearly 5.14 crore. The number of people over 65 years of age in the country is expected to rise from 6.4 crore in 2005 to 23.9 crore.
More life expectancy directly means larger number of people with heart disease.
Source: The Times Of India