The Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center (EHIRC) organized a workshop along with cardiologists, neurosurgeons and neurologists on 18 January to launch the Indian Council of Carotid Intervention (ICCI).

Carotids are arteries supplying blood to the brain and their blockage leads to “Brain Attack” or Strokes. 50 percent of strokes occur due to carotid blockage. Dr. Atul Mathur, Founder Chairman of ICCI and Director of Cardiology at Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center emphasized the growing importance of carotid stenting – a recent medical innovation in angioplasty aimed at preventing strokes. It is a new and less invasive technology which doctors believe is set to become standard treatment in the future.

Hardening of the arteries or  atherosclerosis can cause a build up of plaque, causing them to narrow and stiffen and ultimately reducing blood flow to the brain. Carotid stenting can decrease the rising number of strikes considerably if blockages are detected in patients at an early age. The blockages are removed and the artery walls strengthened during the procedure. Carotid stenting is far less penetrative than the traditionally used endarterectomy.

The council will play the important role of putting in place adequate policy guidelines with a focus on safety and efficacy of the new methods. Its members include Dr. M.S Hiramath, Pune, Dr. P.C. Rath, Hyderabad, Dr. K.K. Haridas, Kochi, Dr. Rabin Chakrabarti, Kolkatta, Dr. Shriram Rajgopal, Chennai, Dr. George Joseph, Vellore, Dr. Bimal Someshwar, Mumbai, Dr. Subash Chandra, Bangalore and Dr. H.K. Bali, Chandigarh.

Dr. Mathur also expressed concern about the hesitation of health care providers to adopt new technologies. A tremendous amount of research and innovation is ongoing in the field of interventional cardiology and medical professionals need to increasingly adopt new and innovative approaches to intervention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Strokes are currently the third most important cause of death after cancer and heart attacks and the single biggest cause of disability. It is thus, also a public health issue of serious proportions.

ICCI is a formal body of ten prominent doctors from across the country, which will govern and supervise a carotid stenting module. It primarily focuses on training and accreditation to doctors, skill enhancement, research, collaboration with international research organization and exchange of academic activities at a global level.

Established in 1988, EHIRC, a medical facility center, has provided high-standard cardiac care for the past 19 years. The hospital is backed by the most advanced in-house laboratories and is arguably the largest stand alone cardiac center across the globe. It has installed the first Da Vinci Cardiac System in the region. Amongst its pioneering technical innovations are techniques of minimally invasive and robotic surgery, the Escorts Heart Alert Service which  provide an expert ECG interpretation over telephone within minutes of any chest complaint/symptoms, and diagnosis of  cardiac defects in fetal life using advanced, specialized echo cardiograph techniques.

It has already treated 300 patients using the carotid stenting technique. Three of the ten ICCI members belong to Escorts. Dr. Atul Mathur is the first Indian doctor to receive a US patent on a medical device for carotid access.

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