Patient who underwent angioplasty at 94, steps into 100th year

V.L. Bela, a primary school teacher, had undergone angioplasty on April 23, 2005 at the city's B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre (BMBHRC) to remove a 70-80 percent blockage in one of the major coronary arteries.

"He had a history of severe and recurrent chest pain. His angiography showed 70-80 percent blockage in one of the major coronary arteries. In view of his condition, a decision of stent angioplasty was taken," said Tarun Praharaj, director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, and senior consultant interventional cardiologist at the BMBHRC.

Bela celebrated his 100th birthday by cutting a cake Oct 11, 2010, Praharaj told the media here.

"I have not come across any medical literature where angioplasty was done on a patient at such an advanced age in India. So he is probably the oldest patient in India to undergo the process and this has been one of the longest follow-up of a patient leading a normal life even at the age of hundred," said Praharaj, who performed the angioplasty on Bela.

"I would have died five years ago had I accepted what the doctors told me in Mizoram and not insisted on going to Kolkata," Bela recollected in a recorded video interview.

Stent angiography of coronary arteries in patients above 80 years could result in more acute cardiac and non-cardiac complications like renal failure, bleeding complication and in-hospital mortality. "This is more so in case of patients above 90 years. But Bela's angioplasty is a milestone in the field of cardiac intervention in India."

The doctor said there were records of stent angioplasty done on a 98-year old man in Brazil and a 91-year-old man in London, besides on a couple of elderly men in Taiwan.

Praharaj said due to a stressful lifestyle involving lack of sleep and physical exercise, high-pressure jobs, little time for proper meals and absence of a healthy diet, the incidence of heart attacks is going up among the 40-45 age group while 60-70 percent of the patients are in their 60s.

"In case of Bela, I can say his stress level was very low and he had a good dietary habit comprising mainly boiled food. He also underwent regular medical check-ups and took medicines regularly. But genetic factors may also be involved," Praharaj said.

Giving an idea of Bela's sound health, the doctor said even after the angioplasty, he went to the church regularly and even got the first prize for regular attendance. "Now, of course, he cannot move out."

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