McLeod doctor says community needs to help with cardiac care
BY LAUREN OWENS
FLORENCE, S.C. − Dr. Rajesh Malik said Monday that the community needs to help deal with the problem of sudden cardiac death.
Malik spoke at the Florence Rotary Club about the risk factors, warning signs and treatment of cardiac arrest. He has been a cardiac electrophysiology doctor at McLeod Hospital for 12 years. He said he hopes to make the community aware of how it can help the problem.
“I’m interested in changing the outcome of the community,” Malik said. “I think we really need to work at preventing sudden cardiac deaths.”
Malik began the talk with stories of individuals in Florence who have had sudden cardiac arrest in the past three years that he has witnessed.
Malik said that as a community it is important to know the extent of the problem and what community members can do about the problem.
According to Malik, sudden cardiac death is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., taking the lives of nearly 450,000 people each year. He also said death is often the first indicator of coronary heart disease because symptoms get ignored or are misdiagnosed.
“The issue is a lot of times is that some of the symptoms go unrecognized,” Malik said. “They may have symptoms; they may ignore them or not pay attention to the underlying history.”
Malik said there is a common misconception over what sudden cardiac death is. He said it is an electrical problem with the heart caused by an arrhythmia or damaged heart muscles, rather than a blockage.
The intervention time drastically affects sudden cardiac death cases, Malik said.
“If such an event takes place, I think it is the time of intervention that makes a difference in their long-term outcome,” Malik said.
If someone gets to the person within a minute of the sudden cardiac arrest, then the rate of survival is about 90 percent, but if the response time is as long as eight minutes, the chances of survival fall to less than 10 percent.
“Even in the best of systems, it is difficult to have survival time,” Malik said. “The reason is a lot of times 40 percent in sleep and 80 percent occur in the home.”
Malik said access to automated external defibrillators helps change the survival rates tremendously.
Malik has been practicing medicine for 20 years with a concentration in cardiac electrophysiology. He helped establish the cardiac electrophysiology program at McLeod almost 11 years ago.
Malik works with complex cardiac procedures, such as atrial fibrillation, pacemakers and defibrillators.