UAE: This heart attack survivor is alive and kicking football at 63

He was leading a normal life, going to work and playing sports regularly – until one night, when he felt a sudden, sharp pain above his shoulder


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 29 Sep 2022, 7:22 PM

Patrick Sullivan survived a heart attack more than a decade ago, thanks to his wife Vivienne’s timely advice to seek medical care. Today, the 63-year-old Englishman plays football and is grateful to his wife, who is a senior nurse, and Dr Jairam K. Aithal, for a second chance at life.

The couple have been in Abu Dhabi for more than 40 years. While Sullivan worked in the finance and administration field, Vivienne has been serving the healthcare sector.

Sullivan was leading a normal life, going to work and playing sports regularly – until one night in October 2010, when he felt a sharp pain on top of his shoulder during a football match. The next day, before heading out to work, he casually informed his wife about the incident.

“This happened when I was 51 years old. I was never sick for a day in my professional life. But I was playing football one night and I had a pressing pain on top of my shoulder,” he said.

Well aware of the symptoms of a heart attack as a nurse, Vivienne rushed him to NMC hospital. A few medical tests later, Sullivan’s main artery, connected to the heart, was found to be 98 per cent blocked.

“If he hadn’t told me about his condition, he would have gone to work that day", Vivienne recounted. "The doctor told me that if he had gone back to playing football, he would have never come out alive. It was a very serious situation.

He wouldn’t have survived if he hadn’t been to hospital that day. Dr Jairam always teases him saying: ‘Vivienne saved your life’.”

Asked about a possible reason for an attack, Vivienne noted that Sullivan never smoked, played sports regularly, and wasn’t overweight – but he had high cholesterol.

“His parents had high cholesterol. One of his cousins died at 40 years of age with high cholesterol and a heart attack. So, [there is a history of] high cholesterol in the family,” she said.

Dr Jairam Aithal, consultant interventional cardiology and programme director, NMC Health, said the attack affected the main artery of the heart, which required angioplasty.

“It was a major surgery. We performed an angioplasty on the left artery while accessing through the leg. He is back to a full active life and plays sports.”

Sullivan is mindful about his narrow escape from death and maintains a healthy lifestyle.

“The surgery extended my life; he (Dr Jairam) saved my life. Over the past 12 years, I have been going in for regular check-ups. I had one or two more stents put into my heart. I have recovered; I do a lot of walking, I play football and badminton.”

Vivienne requests community members to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack.

“They should immediately seek medical help, and remember, this can be at any age.”

World Heart Day is observed on September 29.


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