It was technicolour India of the early 80s: the Maruti car was just two years old, the colour TV (with antennas) had just come in following the Asian Games, and the VCR was the domain of the rich. Less than 500 coronary bypass procedures had been performed in our country until then. The affluent mostly opted to fly to the US and the UK for surgery. Surgeries in our government run institutions and a few private hospitals focussed on diseased heart valves and congenital heart conditions. That was when the Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, decided to perform its first open heart operation, in 1983. This set off a chain reaction in the country,resulting in 15-20 percent more cardiac surgeries being performed every subsequent year !
Power of a dream
Inspired by the Chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy’s vision, the Apollo Hospitals took on the challenge of assembling competent professionals, providing results comparable with those reported internationally, adopting patient-friendly services, a caring attitude and – most importantly – an affordable package. The response was overwhelming. Patients started streaming into the Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, from all corners of India and its neighbouring countries. In less than two years of the hospital’s inauguration, and a 1000 bypass surgeries later, the rest of the country sat up and took notice. Hospitals all across India invested in cardiology and cardiac surgery, despite the heavy expenditure involved, leading to a rapid increase of cardiac related services in our nation.
- In the two decades that followed, nearly 30,000 heart operations have been performed at the Chennai Apollo Hospitals.
- Of these, nearly 22,000 have been coronary bypass operations.
- Six years ago Apollo Hospitals began using the beating heart technique for its surgeries, and nearly 90 percent of coronary bypass surgeries have been performed with the aid of this new technology, bringing about a significant reduction in post-operative complications and a hospital mortality to around 0.6 percent.
- Due to Apollo Hospitals’ pioneering efforts, the national statistics for heart surgery has seen a quantum rise. Prior to 1980, coronary bypass surgery formed less than five percent of the cardiac surgeon’s workload. At present, it is over 70 percent.
More is still less
The cardiologists at Apollo Hospitals also pioneered the balloon angioplasty procedure, positioning themselves at the forefront of percutaneous interventions. Scores of surgeons and cardiologists have trained with Apollo and are now spreading the expertise gained around the country.
With a reported incidence of around 12% in the urban adult population in India and an estimated 60 million individuals suffering from coronary artery disease, the 72000 procedures carried out in Apollo are still inadequate. What we need now is, to acknowledge the unfortunate truth that being an Indian also puts us at risk for coronary artery disease. The way ahead is, to realise that the only remedy is to greatly reduce that risk with a sensible lifestyle, modified dietary habits, regular exercise and periodic medical check-ups.
Read more about Bypass surgeries here: https://www.apollohospitals.com/departments/heart/know-your-heart/cardiac-treatment