UAE: Emirati doctor saves expat’s life as heart stops thrice after attack

Warning signs of a heart attack are chest pain associated with radiating pain in the arms, nausea and vomiting



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Mon 22 Aug 2022, 1:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 12:55 PM

A multidisciplinary team led by an Emirati physician have saved the life of an Arab expat who suffered a STEMI attack – one of the deadliest forms of heart attacks resulting in his heart stopping thrice and him losing pulse.

ST-elevated myocardial infraction (STEMI) is one of the most dangerous of heart attacks where coronary arteries, which provide blood flow to heart muscle, get blocked leading to a greater risk of serious complications and death if not diagnosed and treated on time. In this case, the man in his 50s was rushed to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) inside the first hour, known as the ‘golden hour’, of a massive heart attack.

SSMC is operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) in partnership with the US’ Mayo Clinic. The integrated medical facility has a comprehensive system of coordination with the UAE’s National Ambulance to deal with emergency cases.

“A comprehensive omnichannel approach is vital. It started with the ambulance responding to the patient’s call on time. The paramedics did an immediate ECG to confirm the diagnosis. They informed the on-ground medical unit that the patient was suffering from a STEMI heart attack. At once, the catheterisation laboratory was activated. We made sure that the patient had a monitored bed at the emergency unit critical zone to monitor his case. Thankfully, the patient was rushed to the hospital during the golden hour period. We received him just in time,” Dr Mohammed Abdul Bari Al Jaberi, consultant emergency medicine at SSMC, told Khaleej Times.

Image used for illustrative purposes only
Image used for illustrative purposes only

“He was immediately placed on a cardiac monitoring defibrillator. This is to treat any complications that can happen from a sudden STEMI attack like hypotension, heart failure, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) or even cardiac arrest. He underwent several tests including an ECG, which confirmed the massive STEMI heart attack. We provided a full course of medication to the patient and kept him in monitoring to observe any changes to his case.”

Surviving three cardiac arrests

While being transported to the catheterisation lab, the patient suffered three cardiac arrests as a ventricular fibrillation, i.e., abnormal heart rhythms.

“A ventricular fibrillation causes a patient to lose consciousness for a few seconds with no pulse. We had to administer a defibrillator shock, which was already attached to him. The patient regained consciousness, but his condition was very critical. He suffered two additional cardiac arrests similarly in the form of ventricular fibrillation but, thankfully, we rushed him to the catheterisation lab where we performed a detailed and delicate rescue percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedure to treat the blocked coronary and save his life,” Dr Jaberi noted.

After the PCI procedure, the patient was admitted to the cardiac unit for close monitoring and further tests such as an echocardiogram.

“Once the patient was stabilised and back to normal, he was discharged and was given advice and prescribed appropriate medications as well as a follow-up date at the cardiology clinic,” said Dr Al Jaberi, who is also a certified provider of advanced trauma life support, advanced cardiac life support, paediatric advanced life support, and advanced life support in obstetrics.

Causes, symptoms and prevention

Dr Al Jaberi said the cause of a STEMI is a total or near total blockage in the coronary artery, which leads to ST elevations in the ECG.

“Many risk factors can contribute to heart attack but thankfully the majority of them are preventable. Age, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, family history of heart attacks, lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, stress, and illegal drug use can all contribute to elevated risks of a heart attack.”

Warning signs of a heart attack are chest pain associated with any of the following increases like radiating pain in the arms, nausea and vomiting, sweating, exertion, other symptoms could include shortness of breath, anxiety, dizziness, and palpitations. Generally, all types of heart attacks have the same symptoms, but the difference can be seen in the changes in ECG and cardiac enzyme levels.

Asked about ways to prevent a STEMI attack, Dr Al Jaberi recommended making simple lifestyle changes.

“Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight / reducing obesity, adapting healthy diets and regimens, exercising regularly, reducing cholesterol through Statin therapy (for specific patients who need it) are some of the ways to reduce the burden of atherosclerotic – the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls,” Dr Al Jaberi said.

The patient is grateful to the multidisciplinary and talented team at SSMC.

“The SSMC emergency department has expert multidisciplinary staff and advanced equipment to manage complex cases successfully. They have given me a second chance in life,” the Arab expat added.

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