Cardiologist brings life-saving heart care to India

Annual medical missions help reduce gaps in access to arrhythmia treatment

(SACRAMENTO)

Cardiovascular diseases are a major part of the non-communicable disease burden in India. While cardiology services are available in India, there are gaps in access to specialty care for arrhythmias, especially for people with economic or logistic barriers. Without proper assessment and care, arrhythmias can affect quality of life or be fatal.

Uma Srivatsa (right) during a defibrillator implantation procedure in India.
Uma Srivatsa (right) during a defibrillator implantation procedure in India.

This is why UC Davis Health physician Uma Srivatsa, who is from India, was inspired to go to medical school and specialize in cardiac electrophysiology, the field that uses advanced technologies to precisely diagnose and treat complex arrhythmias.

This is also why she returns to India each year with colleagues from UC Davis or other academic medical centers to provide arrhythmia assessments and treatments.

“India is where my journey as a cardiologist began,” Srivatsa said. “It is a privilege to return home, support my colleagues there and use my expertise to help communities where there is so much need.”

UC Davis medical staff who have participated include cardiologists Jeanny Park and Eric Nordsieck, electrophysiology technicians Mary Chavez and Brett Mastella, and nurse Mary Zanobini.

Srivatsa has organized the missions for 10 years. Cardiac equipment and devices used on the trips have been donated, and the medical staff for recent missions have mostly been self-funded.

Srivatsa
Uma Srivatsa

The teams travel to two hospitals known for providing free health care to medically underserved populations: Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Whitefield, Karnataka, and in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh.

They perform electrophysiology studies and provide treatments — including ablation, pacemakers and defibrillators — for as many as 60 pediatric and adult patients during each medical mission. Some of those patients travel long distances from small villages in remote areas for the opportunity.

Srivatsa’s biggest concern is that she leaves the country with many more patients needing assessments and treatment, so she is already planning a 2020 trip. If you are interested in joining her, email unsrivatsa@ucdavis.edu.

If you would like to contribute to the missions, contact Elizabeth Abad at edabad@ucdavis.edu.

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