UAE: 'Warning' heart attack motivates engineer to lose 34 kilos, fight obesity

While working out, Ali Mohamed felt a burning sensation in his chest; medical results revealed he was in urgent need of a bypass


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 4:27 PM

A 41-year-old Emirati man, who had struggled with obesity for decades, was motivated to get fit and lose 34kgs after he experienced a 'warning' heart attack and underwent open-heart surgery.

Words of caution by medics at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi spurred Ali Mohamed to finally take charge of his health.

Peaking at 180kgs, the Emirati engineer, who works in the oil and gas industry, had been slowly losing weight since 2011. During the summer of 2020, he began an exercise routine to accelerate his weight loss.

While working out, he felt a burning sensation in his chest and would sweat profusely. Writing off the symptoms as indigestion, Mohamed waited six weeks before visiting Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to see a doctor.

"Mohamed had all the traditional risk factors for severe heart disease as he was obese, diabetic and a smoker. On top of that, he had a strong family history of heart disease and extremely high cholesterol that runs in his family,” says Dr Hani Sabbour, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

“When we ran our tests on Ali, the results were shocking. He was in urgent need of a bypass. The only good news for him was that he had been experiencing ‘warning’ heart attacks that had not damaged his heart muscle."

Mohamed’s care team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi explained his test results to him and advised him to have the surgery as soon as possible.

Due to his extremely high cholesterol, less invasive solutions, such as stents, would not work as they would become blocked extremely quickly -- Ali needed to undergo open heart surgery.

“I was shocked and scared when the doctors gave me the news. I was asking myself how this could be at my young age and whether these were my last days in this world,” said Mohamed. “I have always tried to lose weight and be healthier but other things got in the way. I spoke to my wife and I decided that from now on, my health would be my number one priority.”

Following his successful surgery, Mohamed worked with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s cardio metabolic clinic to help manage his diet and exercise, control his diabetes and lower his cholesterol.

He stopped smoking and began working out three times per week and eating a much healthier diet. The lifestyle changes he made have helped him lose around 34kgs in the year since his surgery.

In addition to his weight loss, Mohamed’s cholesterol levels dropped by over 75 perfect while working with the cardio metabolic clinic.

He also saw significant improvement in his blood pressure and HBA1c -- a key indicator of his overall blood sugar control.

“Thanks to my new diet and exercise program, I feel like a different person. Having Dr Sabbour and the team from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi with me to answer questions and guide me down the right path has been fantastic,” said Mohamed.

“They showed me that anything is possible. I have cut sugar from my diet and eat very healthily now. I also follow my workout routine three times a week without fail. Now I am trying to encourage my family to do the same.”


For his care team, Mohamed’s transformation exemplifies the importance of recognising risk factors and symptoms for cardiac issues as well as the power that a more heart-healthy lifestyle can have.

“The change we’ve seen in Ali has been amazing. He demonstrates that with the right motivation and clinical support, the mind really can triumph over matter,” said Dr Sabbour.

“He has managed to overcome many hurdles to transform his life for the better. His decision to start exercising and his warning heart attack might have saved his life. Without them, his condition might have progressed even further.”

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