ABBOTT INDIA LTD
How a Troponin Test Put the Ball Back in Vivek Mathur's court
Vivek Mathur solves problems.
Even at an early age, he saw the potential for machines to improve the way people live. He pursued that passion throughout his life — and even built it into a successful business.
But a few years back, Mathur was faced with a problem he couldn't solve: a mystery heart condition. He didn't even know what the problem was.
Out of breath, out of control
Mathur was 24 years old when he was diagnosed with asthma. The diagnosis didn't come as a great surprise to the then-young businessman — his grandmother and his sister had asthma, too. Two years later, his doctor put him on medication for hypertension. Mathur took it in stride and continued to throw himself into his increasingly stressful work.
"My family business collapsed," Mathur said. "I struggled with it because we had to shut down our factories and sell all our properties, all our assets. I was battling serious issues. And I had to manage my own business as well."
Over time, his constant focus on building and running the businesses took a toll on his health.
"I used to eat at odd hours," he said. "I worked all day and came home late. My mind was always on work. And when it came to my social circle, too, health was not of importance. Added to that, I used to be an active smoker. I was leading a very unhealthy life, devoid of sport or physical activity."
"At my company, we started with home appliances and later turned to robotics," Mathur said. "Now, we're into robotics research full time. But it was in a nascent stage in India when we started out, so it took us almost two years to get our first order. It came from IIT Madras and was a huge morale boost. But that was a serious challenge, that first order. It was very stressful and it all took a toll on my health."
Obese, living with diabetes and under extreme stress, Mathur reached his breaking point. Taking care of himself was unmanageable alone. He needed help.
A taste of tests
A blood test. That's all it took to set Mathur's course on a new path.
"It suddenly hits you when you do a blood test and you see numbers and levels that aren't great," he said. "I was scared. Everything was hitting the roof and nobody gave me a clear answer as to what was causing it."
Heart problems run in Mathur's family. As a young man, he had watched his father struggle with cardiovascular disease. So when it was time to understand his health better, he started with his doctors. It was then that one of his doctors suggested a high-sensitivity troponin test.
Troponin is a protein that's released into the bloodstream with heart muscle has been damaged, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine;the more troponin in the bloodstream, the more damage there's been to the heart. A troponin test, sometimes referred to as an HSTn test, is often predictive of cardiovascular disease that can go undetected for years until it becomes a serious problem.
His concern rising rapidly, Mathur agreed to the troponin test. The test found high levels of troponin in Mathur's heart; his doctor told him that he was heading for a heart attack if something didn't change. His cardiologist prescribed a follow-up troponin test after two months of treatment, and Mathur set out to change his health for the better.
"My family was happy," Mathur said. "After the exploratory test, I didn't have to do an angiogram."
His heart on his sleeve
Forewarned of his risk for cardiovascular disease, he took his life back into his own hands.
Today, the 58-year-old is a changed man. He spends close to six hours on himself every day.
"I spend three hours a day in the gym," he says. '"And I'm very careful about the food I eat and especially at what time I eat it. I don't eat anything after 5 p.m. My first meal is strictly after 10 a.m. I'm also doing intermittent fasting to reach my goal weight."
He's changed his habits dramatically: He took up tennis, and refocused himself on his hobbies, such as playing the guitar. And he's dropped a considerable amount of weight after overhauling his diet.
"I was 107 kilos," he said. "That's a lot for someone who is 5-foot-7. ... I'm 82 kilograms now. I have a long way to go to reach my target weight of 75 kilograms, but I know I'm getting there. I need to get there to step out of the danger zone."
Still, there are signs of improvement almost everywhere he looks.
"I used to have to take six to seven medicines a day, twice," he said. "That's 14 medicines on a daily basis. But now, it's dropped to just two medicines every day."
Work keeps him busy, but it doesn't stress him out like it used to.
"Stress is a part of life for any businessman," he said. "But after my health started waving the red flag, I knew I had to manage my stress better. Now, I don't think of it too strongly. I let it go. I have an easy temperament."
And Mathur's found that making time for himself has helped him take his passion for robotics to another level.
"My bucket list is to give back to life because it's given me so much," he said. "When my mother fell ill, I had to nurse her back to health. I built an ICU at home. There are so many families that need this type of care after they get back home from hospitals. It is my goal to make sure that solutions find their way to such people. That's my way of giving life everything it has given me."
Technology didn't just help improve Mathur's health — it changed it for the better. The troponin test gave him the push he needed to take back his health, and he's ready to pay that gift forward with his dream project of ICU Services at Home.
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