Protecting Heart Function & Heart Health by Dr Ameet Bakhai
Please see the attached presentation to view the slides which formed the content of his discourse.
Protecting Heart Function & Heart Health with Dr Ameet Bakhai
Report by Akash Gandhi.
On 23rd October, members of the public were invited to listen to learn about how they can protect their own heart and keep it healthy. Over 250 people attended the event organised by Vanik Council (UK) at the Navnat Centre in Hayes, in collaboration with consultant cardiologist Dr Ameet Bakhai.
Following an introduction to the day by Akash Gandhi, Ameet Bakhai, a cutting edge cardiologist and research director at the Royal Free NHS Trust, delivered a detailed, careful presentation on how the heart functions. He then demonstrated how it can be assessed with carefully selected videos of echocardiograms, coronary angiograms, CT and MRI scans and videos of abnormal hearts. He spoke in Gujarati for the benefit of many senior members and explained how the heart works like an engine, with valves, pistons, electricity wires, petrol, spark plugs, gear box and chassis – relating these in simple terms we could all understand.
Over the course of two incredibly engaging hours, he presented on key issues about how individuals at risk of developing heart conditions must take matters into their own hands, to help prevent heart attacks, valve disease and “heart failure”. He and his team taught every member to feel their own pulse either in the hand or the neck. He showed information from recent research papers that showed that a lifestyle of spending more than 3 watching TV every day, lack of good sleep and low physical activity leads to an increase in heart disease and early deaths.
With help from incredible volunteers like Dr Pragnaben Mandalia, the entire audience was seated and prepared quietly and calmly by 9.45 and everyone stay fully engaged till 12.30 asking over 20 questions in the Q&A session which lasted more than 30 minutes. Then, there was very relevant part of the morning where Pragnaben and he had found 4 very brave and kind volunteers, who shared what happened to them from bypass surgery to angioplasty and stents, from pacemakers to valve procedures. The volunteers spoke openly and inspiringly their experiences, how important it was to be relaxed and confident in the teams looking after them and to work with the doctors and nurses. One presentation involved several near death experiences but saved every time by the superb care which accredited recent observations that London was one of the safest places to have a heart attack in Europe.
Attendees gave feedback verbally and on forms, that was overwhelmingly positive and requests were made to repeat the event with many other groups. One surprising feedback element that was highlighted by Akash Pattni, a 5th year medical student at UCL attending the morning was insightful. He said “I find it fascinating that despite spending hours at medical school learning about the heart, what can go wrong and how to treat it, so little is taught about what steps we can take to prevent them in the first place.” He had never been set any assignments in 6 years to encourage prevention work with the public such as this and stated: “I hope to carry forward these prevention strategies into my clinical life for all the patients that I encounter.”
Ameet, Pragnaben and their team’s goals for our community were:
1. to remove fear in our minds when we go to the hospital for procedures such as the angiograms and pacemakers he performs, the nuclear scans and echocardiograms
2. prepare us and our families on how to deal with chest pains, breathlessness and other symptoms or signs
3. to help us approach doctors early when these occur
4. to show us exactly how the heart, blood and lungs all work to keep us healthy
5. to demonstrate such a health event can be conducted to enable self help
6. to remove the taboo on sharing our health experiences with each other and fight the feelings of isolation
We can testify that they completely achieved these and more. All of their efforts and preparation have brought awareness to the members who attended and inspiration to make more positive choices towards their own health.
The simple, approachable way, such complex matters were shown, discussed and dealt with have made this health event one of the most memorable events in NCVA’s public work to date. We thank all those who attended, those who helped organise and promote the event and our health champions like Ameet Bakhai and Pragnaben Mandalia and wish them well in their work always.