Heart diseases are a major reason for mortality in many countries. According to WHO around 32 per cent of global deaths in 2019 were due to heart attack or stroke, which constitutes to the major number of preventable causes of death.
As an individual, as a community, and as a country, we should all strive for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, which mainly constitutes lifestyle measures and periodic health checkups.
But how do we aim for primordial, or primary prevention?
We are aware that obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, lack of exercise, stressful lifestyle, and unhealthy diet are common factors contributing to heart diseases. As healthcare practitioners, it our responsibility to identify early signs and symptoms, educate patients and the wider community and urge the high-risk group to opt for regular check-ups.
Regular health assessments and risk assessments for cardiac disease have proven beneficial for high-risk patients in identifying early symptoms. Moreover, early detection of heart diseases saves lives and reduces the amount of damage that can happen to the heart which eventually improves the lives of people who have suffered from a heart attack.
Fortunately, in the post-Covid era, the use of technology in healthcare is evolving and supporting those who are time-poor. The advanced smartwatches and wearable devices that people wear every day – at home, at gym, and in the office — can detect abnormalities in heart rate, which could be an early sign of heart disease. The same data can be shared with the physician over teleconsultation, and a detailed assessment could be done.
The intelligent device technology penetrates healthcare, where the monitoring device remotely collects information regarding heart rate, sleep pattern, blood sugars, and blood pressure. This ensures an accurate assessment of heart disease risk factors and enables the prevention of heart diseases.
One should be cautious however about the ideal utilisations for these devices and the risks associated with them. There is always a possibility that the data might be inaccurate, or the patient is not using the device correctly. The other concern associated with these devices relates to the medico-legal implications. Device providers should have the capabilities to handle the abnormal signal and have a plan of action to guide individuals on how to act once an alarm goes off.
Moreover, as the region moves towards technology-based healthcare — including in-home and virtual consultations, that do not require patients to physically visit a clinic — we are optimistic about leveraging technology to improve patient outcomes, and ultimately, the quality of people’s lives.
Dr. Radha Shankar is the Specialist Internal Medicine at Housecall.