Calls to increase cardiac surgery facilities in Al Ain
AL AIN // Doctors in Al Ain have called for an increase in the number of cardiac surgery facilities in the city, with only one hospital currently offering the life-saving procedure.
The privately-run NMC Specialty Hospital is equipped to carry out complex heart operations and the number of patients seeking treatment is growing all the time, said Dr Pradeep Chand, a consultant cardio thoracic surgeon at NMC.
Dr Chand said that while some hospitals in the city have cardiac consultants on staff, they do not have the equipment or facilities needed for emergency surgeries.
“There are two government hospitals in the city where cardiac consultants are available but they don’t have surgery. As a result, all the [heart] patients that require bypass surgery or any other emergency treatment are transferred to Abu Dhabi, where they often have to face a waiting list,” said the surgeon, who performs 10 surgeries a month on an average, with at least three emergency cases.
According to national health statistics, one quarter of all deaths in the UAE each year are a result of cardiovascular disease. Hospitals are seeing patients as young as 28 suffering heart attacks, with the risk of heart disease starting between 40 and 50 years old, 10 years earlier here than in western countries.
Al Ain resident M Khan suffered a major heart attack while driving. The 51-year-old Indian, who is the sole breadwinner for his family of four, had a heavily blocked left main artery; responsible for about two thirds of the blood supply to the heart and required immediate by-pass surgery.
As the government hospital he was admitted to could not perform the by-pass surgery he needed, preparations were made to take him to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi.
However, while waiting for the transfer he suffered a second heart attack and was immediately moved to NMC where Dr Chand performed lifesaving surgery.
“Heart attacks are a silent killer. Because of the kind of lifestyle we follow, the health of our heart is always at stake,” said Mr Khan. “Like all other emergency facilities, we also need heart surgery emergency facilities as near as possible.
“I am alive today because my family found the hospital within the city that performed the emergency surgery. At such a crucial moment, every minute counts. I would not have survived if they took me to Abu Dhabi for further treatment.”
Dr Chand said private hospitals are often put off investing in specialised services such as cardiac surgery because of the costs involved.
“Unlike other surgeries, it requires huge investment because the machines are expensive and specialised. Compared to the investment, the return is not profitable, which hurts the business dynamics of many private hospitals in the country.”
Dr Chand said the need for more cardiac surgery facilities is growing across the UAE.
“The two NMC hospitals in Abu Dhabi, one in Dubai and one in Al Ain, in total they see more than 500 patients in a day,” he said. “These hospitals treat on average 12 cardiac emergencies a day, performing up to 400 heart procedures in a month.”
Updated: June 16, 2017 04:00 AM