A spate of heart attack deaths of revellers performing Garba during Navaratri celebrations sent shock waves across the nation. Though cardiac issues during heightened physical activity are not quite uncommon, the sheer number of deaths and the age profile of the victims, was unprecedented and alarming.

“Garba is a high-intensity activity which generally leads to heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Healthy individuals come back to normal heart rates after some time. In some individuals, there will be an overshoot of sympathetic activity which culminates in arrhythmia and succumbs to sudden cardiac death,” Sowjanya Patibandla. Chief Medical Officer of Vigocare, told businessline.

She calls for long-term (for 24 hours and up to 30 days) monitoring of the heart through ECG to identify underlying cardiac problems. 

Citing a survey that Vigocare conducted at a top-tier IT firm recently, she said that five out of the 100 women employees that it studied were found to be suffering from a cardiac rhythmissue. Left undetected, which would have been the case in the sample under review, these issues could lead to serious conditions.

“Most of the arrhythmias happen without symptoms and can be missed during the routine ECG tests. Hence it is important to measure the heart rhythm for extended periods of time,” she said.

“Easy to wear”

Akkiraju Bhattiprolu, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Vigocare, said that the ECG monitoring technology includes an easy-to-wear ECG patch that connects to any mobile phone avoiding all the discomfort that patients generally experience while going through longer duration ECG monitoring.

The electronic patch captures the electric signals and remotely transmits them to the secure cloud, which is crunched to get actionable insights using Big Data, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. This information can be passed on to the doctors over their phones. The startup, which developed the product during the Covid-19 pandemic, helped remote monitoring of patients.

“We are not a direct-to-consumer company. We enter into tie ups with hospitals and doctors, who will use it on their patients. These patches are reusable. What we offer is a monitoring service. Doctors use our reports in their decision making and treatment plans,” he said.

“We monitored over 25,000 patients so far, which adds up to a million hours of monitoring,“ he said. 

“Continuous cardiac monitoring gives more insight into the heart health, arrhythmias and impending heart risks. It also gives us an idea about heart rate variability (HRV),” he said.

Accurate and precise measurement of HRV gives an insight to predict the individuals who are going to be at risk for the life threatening arrhythmias.

Dr Sowjanya says the biggest challenge in India is the absence of data. Quoting reports, she said developed countries like the US and Australia monitored about 1.5 per cent of their populations for cardiac issues. “We should be monitoring about 2 crore people to match that number,” she said.