A Story of a Heart Attack

January 14, 2016

 “When I was at Bumrungrad’s Heart Center with chest pain, I couldn’t stop thinking, “I’m in great shape. I exercise! How did I end up here?!” 

Thosaporn Hongsanan is an active businessman in his early 60s who exercises every day and is in good shape. But that didn’t stop him from having a heart attack.  

An Active Lifestyle

“I’ve exercised, played sports and stayed physically active doing  rugby, judo, and scuba diving since I was sixteen. I am currently a  trainer for scuba diving. I swim 1,000 to 1,200 meters regularly,  and put in an hour at the gym daily. I also love cycling, especially  long distances of 60 to 70 kilometers. I’m not exaggerating when  I say that I have been playing sports nonstop for most of my life,”  says Thosaporn.“Everybody wondered how I still got heart disease.”
As if all the exercise and sports weren’t enough, he also does international long-distance motorcycling and pilots his private plane. To keep his pilot’s license, he undergoes rigorous physical and mental assessments twice a year.  
“I take good care of my health and try to stay fit. I’m not  strict about what I eat, but I watch my weight,” says Thosaporn.  “At work, stress comes and goes in the usual way. But, suddenly, I had acute myocardial infarction. With my high level of physical activity? I never expected to get heart disease!”   

No Warning Signs

Thosaporn’s health crisis arrived  suddenly, with no warning signs. “I was at a monastery to prepare for my ordination as a Buddhist monk the following week. I felt shooting pain on my left side up to the shoulder and tightness in my chest, but that dissipated after a while so I didn’t think there was a big problem. But the next morning I felt the pain again. By now I was very concerned. The pain  continued, and then my fingertips went  numb. I knew it was something to do  with my heart, so I went to the hospital.”
After careful examination, Bumrungrad cardiologist Dr. Visuit Vivekaphirat  diagnosed Thosaporn with acute  myocardial infraction and ordered an  emergency balloon angioplasty. “The  doctor’s diagnosis meant my case was  now an emergency. Staff sprang into  action. Within an hour they had located  and treated the arterial blockage.  I’m grateful and impressed by their  quick response; any delay at that  point could’ve been terrible for me.”



Fitness Helps!    
After the balloon angioplasty,  Thosaporn spent three days in the  hospital before resuming his three  weeks of ordination training and  regular exercise regimen. “Now, I feel  more vibrant and energized; I can swim longer distances and feel less tired,”  Thosaporn says. “I’m looking forward to my next long-distance motorcycle trip.”
From this near-death experience, Thosaporn learned that exercising  and being in good shape help the  body recover faster and better from  illness. However, being in shape does not equal immunity from disease. He knows now that awareness and basic  knowledge of self-care in a heart attack situation can save your life.

Dr. Visuit confirms that a precise and quick diagnosis is key to saving patients’ lives and preserving their ability to recover.  

At the Hospital

“Thosaporn had left-side chest  pains that started the day before he came to the hospital,” recalls Dr. Visuit. “On this information, we immediately did an electrocardiogram test within 10 minutes of his arrival. The cardiograph indicated acute myocardial  infarction due to permanent coronary  thrombosis, which means blocked  blood flow through the coronary artery.  If untreated, that condition causes  irreversible heart muscle damage.” Delay in treatment means oxygen  is not getting to the heart muscle.  

Quick diagnosis was vital to saving  Thosaporn’s life and preserving his  heart’s function. Weakened pumping  action from heart attack damage leads  to greater chance of abnormal heart  rhythms and future heart failure.  Additionally, blood clots in the larger  blood vessels can cause full infarction, which can lead to certain death.  Myocardial infarction presents a  mortality risk of over 10 percent, so Thosaporn was lucky to get the right treatment in the nick of time.  

Causes and Treatment for Myocardial Infarction Dr. Visuit notes that Thosaporn  has a family history of heart disease,  smoking, hypertension, hyperglycemia  and arterial plaque. When plaques  rupture, they cause arterial blood clots. Such a clot caused his chest pain, but  it was not continual at first because  it had not yet completely blocked the flow of blood. But soon the clot grows large enough to block blood flow  permanently, which leads to constant  pain and heart attack because the heart does not receive oxygen.
“To stop myocardial infarction we revascularize the heart as soon as possible  to restore blood circulation to the  muscle,” say Dr. Visuit. “Fortunately,  Thosaporn arrived at the hospital soon enough after his symptoms started;  the lack of oxygen to his heart muscle  had not damaged it too severely. He received an angioplasty and stenting and blood flow returned.”
Thosaporn enjoyed a quick recovery  because he was in otherwise good shape.  His cardiac problems calmed down,  and he returned to his normal activities  much faster than if he were, for example,  severely overweight or diabetic. 

The Current Story

“Before Thosaporn left the hospital,  we conducted another echocardiogram  that showed his heart functioned  normally,” says Dr. Visuit. “But, he’ll need monitoring because blockages can  recur. In his case, he has stenosis of  50 to 60 percent in other locations. He  doesn’t need invasive treatments at  present, but he must take antiplatelet  and atherosclerosis medications, which  can reduce ischemic (restricted oxygen flow) heart condition by 30 percent.”  

The Risk Group for Myocardial Infraction  

Myocardial infarction can afflict  people of all ages. However, people with a family history of heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes are especially at risk. Also susceptible are menopausal women or people with risky lifestyles such as lack of exercise, stress, or smoking to name just a few. If you are in the risk group for this disease, always keep in mind the common warning signs of  this disease so you can recognize it in  yourself. These warning signs include  sudden fatigue and chest pain. If you  notice these symptoms in yourself,  contact your doctor immediately so that  you can receive the proper examination  and treatment as soon as possible.

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