Tuesday, June 08, 2004

An interview with two Israeli cardiologists

Here is a piece I wrote on two leading cardiologists who were in Jaipur for a workshop. They work at Chaim Sheba Medical Center, the largest hospital in West Asia and had some interesting insights into heart care and the road ahead:

Being at the forefront of preventive cardiology and coronary care is not their only claim to fame. Michael Schechter and Y Har-Zahav also work at the biggest hospital in West Asia. In fact, the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv is like a “monster”, as Schechter would say. A 3,000-bed hospital, it also has a five star hotel and shopping malls within its premises. “It’s like a city,” Schechter said.

Recently in Jaipur for an Indo-Israeli workshop on cardiology, the two doctors are the first from Israel to travel to India for an exchange at a professional level. Schechter is a leading researcher on how to accurately predict heart attacks and undo the damage done to the endothelium. Whereas, Har-Zahav specialises in performing angioplasties and angiographies on patients with a transplanted heart.

Currently, using high resolution ultrasound probes it is now possible to observe closely the damage done to the endothelium and predict “very precisely” coronary attacks. “We are now working on finding exactly what medicines and facilities can stop and undo the progress of the disease,” said Schechter.

“Next, we want to begin working on small machines, like use a PDA and wave light, to measure the endothelial function. This will enable us to take the set up to every home and benefit the people,” he added. Contrary to what most would believe, a check up on this costs just about $ 100 dollars. “Indians do deserve much better medical services at lower costs,” he said.

Excited about coming to India, the two doctors said that the two countries could learn a lot from each other. “India could benefit from Israel’s developed emergency care services and we could use India’s traditional herbs for cardiac rehabilitation,” added Schechter. Asked if people in the region suffered more from cardiac problems because of the incessant violence, the doctor acknowledged that it did stress the people. “When Iraq launched scud missiles at Tel Aviv during the first Gulf War, studies found that heart attacks had gone up by three times,” he replied.

“But often the media exaggerates the sporadic violence in the region. It just happens in pockets and we lead ordinary lives,” Schechter added. Also the chief cardiologist of the Israeli Red Cross Society, he added that cooperation with Arab doctors was also active at their hospital. “I am a firm believer in people-to-people contacts and as a doctor I treat all my patients, irrespective of their politics, as human beings,” he said.


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