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Saving Life is a Passion

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A pioneer in bypass surgery, Dr.Ganesh Kumar Mani has the distinction of 18,000 surgeries to his credit. Besides, recognitions and awards, including the Padma Shree, he has served relentlessly to save lives. A surgeon par excellence, he shares his thoughts with Shahid Akhter, ENN.

Do you agree with India’s heart burden pegged at 32 million ? Reasons behind this frightening figure ?
Studies reveal that Indians are four times more prone to coronary artery diseases than their Western counterparts. Besides genetic predisposition and climatic conditions, faulty lifestyle ( improper food habits, lack of physical activity, high level of stress, increase in smoking, enhanced alcohol consumption, etc) are some of the probable factors contributing to steep rise in coronary heart disease. In India sweets are de rigueur; no occasion or festival or celebration passes by without the avalanche of sweets. Equally harsh is our association with spices and salt. Studies reveal that early diagnosis can prevent many of the long-term effects and can save the person from all invasive and noninvasive procedures.

People prefer angioplasties (2.5 lakhs) as compared to 1.5 lakhs in cardiac surgeries. Why the surge in angioplasty ?
Coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG) and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) are the two alternative options for revascularization in patients with coronary artery disease.
The choice of angioplasty or bypass surgery is based on patient – physician interaction and understanding of the scenario. A lot of things need to be taken into consideration before deciding the ideal approach. For instance, the severity of the coronary artery damage, symptoms, overall health of the heart ( heart valves) and co-existing medical condition, diabetes, kidney status and so on….
At times a patient’s thinking is to be blamed. He finds it easy to accept angioplasty, not realizing the future implications and the road ahead. The easy route and the lure of stents and its marketing are some of the factors in favour of angioplasty. It is all about understanding the road map. In the US, 80,000 more surgeries were conducted in 2012 when compared to 2011 figures. People need to be thoroughly educated before they can take a decision.

What recent advancements have surfaced in cardiac surgery ?

Minimally invasive procedures and cosmetic surgeries are two thresholds where a lot of things are happening. In fact, it has changed the way people used to think about surgery. A lot of innovations are marked here but again caution needs to be exercised to ensure that surgery serves it purpose. Advancements are simply unending. Today we may be talking about robotic surgery, tomorrow, something more promising may pave the technological path. Given the expenses, robotic surgery is not the solution for us today. It is exclusively for the ultra rich. May be, when things are cheaper or designed indigenously or possibly with Indo China collaboration, prices may come down and robotic surgery and it may gain wider acceptance.
What technological advancements have been introduced at Pushpanjali hospital in cardiothorasic surgery ?
The Cardiology team at Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital accords utmost importance to proper diagnosis, which helps decide the most appropriate line of treatment. The interventional cardiology department has FD-20 Philips Cath Lab capable of performing coronary as well as peripheral interventions and is supported by excellent diagnostic services like elctrocardiography, computerized Tread mill test, Colour Doppler Echocardiography System and Computerized Holter Monitoring Units etc, for proper planning and execution of treatment.
The department also offers individually tailored strategies for healthy living with regular cardiac checkups for different age groups to keep your heart fit for years to come. Add to this our fleet of Cardiac Ambulances that are well equipped with latest mobile ventilator, defibrillator, ECG machines and monitors to provide accurate information while the specially trained doctors and paramedics on board deal with all kinds of cardiac situations.

With 18,000 cardiac surgeries, 0 mortality and a Padma Shree award (besides several other honours), would you like to share your most memorable moment ?

Saving the life of my friend Dr. E Sreedharan. He had developed multiple blockages and was unconscious at the air port. I was confused about my strategy to save him. Finally, I prepared for his arrival at Apollo Hospital, temporary pace makers were in place and he was operated upon the next day. I feel happy and proud when my memory takes me back that eventful life saving day.

What are your future plans ?

In days to come, possibly stem cells will be a vital issue in resolving healthcare crisis. In coronary matters too, stem cells can be harvested and ease the heart. Stem cells are under research and they seem to show some promising results. Given the improvement in life expectancy, heart problems will be on the increase and stems cells may be the lead player in days to come.

What are the heart health rules that you personally live by?

I believe in the 7s strategy – less or moderate salt, sweet, smoke, sedentary lifestyle, spices, spirit and stress.

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