​Mr Lim Ah Kwah, 66, will never forget the day he was gripped by heart pains.

He almost didn’t make it to the National Heart Centre, as he nearly fainted along the way, but he eventually got there, dripping with sweat, only to be scolded by nurses there for not going straight to an Accident and Emergency department.

Mr Lim was immediately scheduled for emergency bypass surgery – which saved his life. The irony is that the retired house painter might have been spared this experience if he had taken his doctor’s advice to have a bypass three months earlier. Instead, he opted to have a stent put in.

Early in 2004, the father of four was diagnosed with heart disease. There was a 60 per cent in his left main artery. His doctor, cardiologist Dr Aaron Wong, suggested a bypass. Stenting was not recommended, as the severity of the blockage and the importance of the artery meant that stenting would not be as effective as a bypass.

Mr Lim, who had never had major surgery, was afraid of the risks and unwilling to have a bypass. His son agreed with him.

So in June 2004, a stent was inserted in Mr Lim’s left main artery. It was meant to last him six months, after which he was due to return to have the affected artery re-examined.

But three months later, he was hit by the excruciating heart and chest pains that saw him admitted into the hospital for surgery. This time, he had a 90 per cent blockage in his left main artery, the same one that the stent was inserted into. The thickening of smooth muscle cells in the healing process, known as restenosis, caused his artery to re-narrow.

Since the bypass, Mr Lim has recovered and does not require treatment anymore. “ I should have done the bypass earlier,” he said.


Source: Mind Your Body, The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.