A WhatsApp network helps protect hearts

first_imgFrom the border town Uri in Baramulla to the mountains of Banihal and Tanghdar, a WhatsApp group has emerged as a saviour for heart patients in Jammu and Kashmir. It was started by a group of three cardiologists in 2016, with three more doctors joining in 2017. The ‘Save Heart Initiative’ has multiplied from one to three WhatsApp groups, with 256 senior physicians and cardiologists in each group.Over the past 288 days, 7,029 patients, mostly in remote and inaccessible areas, have survived cardiac emergencies, thanks to the network’s intervention during the ‘golden hour.’ “Myocardial infarction and cardiac illnesses are touching epidemic levels in Kashmir. Timely management is vital. So we decided to integrate all levels of healthcare in Kashmir and use WhatsApp as a tool to provide expert opinions and live demonstrations,” said Dr. Nasir Shamas, a physician and founder member.Initially, Dr. Shamas was joined by two more doctors, Dr. Imran Hafeez and Dr. Muzaffar Zargar, and they started offering free online consultation to doctors in far-off districts. “The result was that acute cases of myocardial infarction were treated in remote areas of Qazigund and Handawara,” Dr. Shamas said. A case in point is Shiekh Bashir, a resident of Khawarpara, 295 km from Srinagar. “Local doctors thrombolysed with streptokinase, helped by three doctors in Srinagar,” he said. Impressed, former director, Health Services Kashmir, Dr. Saleem-ur-Rehman, worked to equip the remote doctors with new skills, and helped link cardiologists in 60 hospitals across Kashmir.last_img