Listen to Your Heart

29 Oct 2018

Heart disease can be stealthy and swift. Find out about a real-life patient’s shock diagnosis, surgery and recovery.

The Unlikeliest Victim

Mdm Tan Bee Hua, a 71-year-old housewife, is a lively and active person who believed that she was healthy. For the past ten years, she has woken up at 5.30am every morning and gone to a nearby park to exercise at 6am. She has always paid attention to her diet and never had any bad habits.

A year ago, Mdm Tan started feeling overwhelmingly tired due to the constant pain in her right leg. She went to Mount Alvernia Hospital for a checkup and was shocked to discover that she had severe blockages in all three of her coronary arteries. Immediately, she was admitted to the hospital to undergo coronary angioplasty.

Disbelief Turns to Gratitude

“The doctor told me that all three coronary arteries were bloced. I couldn’t believe it. I could walk, I don’t pant, and I have no difficulty breathing. How could I have heart disease?” said Mdm Tan, recalling her incredulity after the diagnosis. “I even asked Dr Ho to perform the surgery after my trip to Thailand.”

It was not until her doctor, Dr Ho Kheng Thye, Senior Consultant Cardiologist of Heart Consultants Pte Ltd at Mount Alvernia Hospital, showed the heart scan to both she and her daughter that Mdm Tan appreciated the full gravity of her condition. Shaken, she cancelled her trip and underwent the procedure right away.

Don’t Automatically Pin the Blame on ‘Old Age’

Before the angioplasty, Mdm Tan sad that she felt tired all day long. She had no energy even to carry groceries from the wet market, and nodded off as soon as she sat down. Mdm Tan had felt moderately fatigued for sveral years, but it began to worsen last year. The muscles in her right leg become so painful that it was difficult to even climb up the stairs. She would have to stop and rest after taking a few steps, and would fall asleep quickly aftr taking a short bus ride.

Since Mdm Tan’s parents and siblings had no family history of cardiovascular disease, she put her lack of energy to getting old. Never once did it occur to her that she might have a heart problem.

Fast-forward to Today

After her coronary angioplasty, Mdm Tan was able to care for herself immediately upon being discharged from hospital. The surgery has had no ill -effects. While she made a quick recovery, she had a second angiopasty rocedure performed two months later. With this, all three vessels were successfully treated. She now goes exercising or swimming everyday and is brimming with energy. She regularly socialises and walks long distances without feeling tired.

Many of Mdm Tan’s close friends were as shocked as she was when they learned that she had a life-threatening heart condition. Several were jolted out of their composure and started going for regular health checkups. Mdm Tan continues to share her experience with her elderly neighbours and friends, urging them to go for regular checkups so that problems can be diagnosed and treated early.

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