Former HMC patient urges public not to ignore heart attack symptoms

Heart attacks are one of the major causes of death in Qatar each year with numerous patient admissions to Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Heart Hospital for various heart-related conditions.

Fifty-five-year-old Graham Foxwell, who cheerily referred to himself as Happy Heart Graham, says he hopes his story will be a cautionary tale for others. The UK native, who has lived in Qatar for about 13 years, found himself requiring the assistance of HMC’s Ambulance Service and Heart Hospital earlier this year.

“My health has always been good. I have never been admitted to hospital in my life,” says Mr. Foxwell. Noting that he started to feel unwell earlier in the evening, Mr. Foxwell says he asked his daughter to Google the symptoms he was experiencing. His 18-year-old daughter quickly determined the severity of the situation and knew they needed medical assistance.

“I was very reluctant to call the ambulance as I thought there was no way I was having a heart attack. I told my daughter not to bother. I said let’s see what happens as it might not be anything. My son and daughter were both getting concerned and kept insisting they ring an ambulance. Like a fool, I kept insisting not to,” recalls Mr. Foxwell.

Dr. Nidal Asaad, Chairman of Cardiology at Heart Hospital, says it is important that the public is able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. He noted that signs and symptoms can vary for men and women.

“Symptoms such as acute chest pain with a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the chest, pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw and sometimes upper back, nausea, breathlessness, and dizziness could all be warning bells for a heart attack. It is also worth noting that symptoms may show up in several different ways and depends on a number of factors, such as gender, age and type of heart disease,” says Dr. Asaad.

Noting that women heart attack patients will often cite unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, and anxiety as the most frequent symptoms they experience, not chest pain, Dr. Asaad says getting help immediately is crucial. “The bottom line is that the sooner you get help, the better your chances for a complete recovery,” adds Dr. Asaad.

If you suspect you are having a heart attack, or if you witness someone you suspect is having a heart attack, immediately call 999 for an ambulance. In his case, Mr. Foxwell says things quickly escalated. Noting that he suddenly felt seriously ill, he told his children to immediately call an ambulance.

“The paramedics arrived very promptly and one of them got to work on me fast. My heart had stopped. He said in all the 25 years of doing this job, mine was the worst case. He looked very concerned but at the same time was calm and reassuring. I said to him, you better keep me alive as I am a single dad. He replied, ‘No pressure then’,” says Mr. Foxwell.

Once a patient is on board, ambulance staff will monitor their heart rhythm all the way to Heart Hospital, transmitting the information to the awaiting physicians so they have an up-to-date picture of the patient’s condition upon arrival.

Mr. Foxwell was admitted to Heart Hospital where he spent four days. He underwent an angioplasty and had two stents placed in his heart valve. He says the care he received was amazing, attributing it in part to his full recovery.