Heart Hospital, a part of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), has performed a lifesaving open heart surgery on a Covid-19 positive 43-year-old Qatar resident, it was announced Wednesday.
The story of this patient, currently recovering from the surgery performed earlier this week, is a cautionary tale for anyone who may be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack and is delaying going to the hospital due to concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi
Dr Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi, cardiac surgeon and chairman of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Heart Hospital, explained that since the Covid-19 pandemic began, hospitals around the world have been admitting fewer heart attack patients.
"Treatment for heart disease can rarely be delayed and I am assuring Qatar residents that the Heart Hospital has protocols in place to protect patients and minimise their risk of exposure to Covid-19," he said.
“Some patients are afraid of getting Covid-19 if they go to the hospital or are misunderstanding directives about avoiding health care that can be delayed.
"Since shortness of breath can be a symptom of both a heart attack and Covid-19, some patients with heart problems may also be self-isolating at home, assuming they have the virus and hoping it will pass. This can be extremely dangerous, particularly if they are in fact having a heart attack,” said Dr al-Khulaifi.
“In the case of this patient, he had been having chest pain for about a week before coming to the hospital. We arranged for a coronary angiogram, a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see the heart’s blood vessels, so we could determine if there was a restriction in blood flow going to the heart. We also arranged for him to be tested for Covid-19, as part of our standard care practice. The Covid-19 test came back positive and the angiogram showed that he had three-vessel disease (3VD),” recalled Dr al- Khulaifi.
The three-vessel disease is the most severe form of coronary atherosclerosis. 3VD means the three big vessels, the left anterior descending, right coronary, and circumflex arteries have blockages.
As part of Heart Hospital’s Covid-19 protocol, a virtual meeting of the Multi-Disciplinary Team was held to plan the best course of treatment for the patient.
“The team concluded that timely open-heart surgery was the best option for this patient. The patient was stabilised and subsequently prepared for surgery and the relevant departments and sections were informed of his coronavirus diagnosis to ensure that all necessary precautions were in place to help minimise the risk of Covid-19 spread, both during the surgery and during his follow-up care and recovery. The patient is currently recovering in isolation,” said Dr al- Khulaifi.
The team included Dr Shady Ashraf, Dr Hafeez Lone, Dr Bassam Shouman, Dr Suraj Sudarsanan, Rami Ahmad, Abeer Mahmoud, Khadejeh Mohamed, Shiji Varghese, Sujatha Shettra, and Julie Paul who played an important role in helping to ensure this story will have a happy ending. It also highlights that it is essential that any patient who is having chest pains does not delay getting help.