An Emirati man lost 34 kilograms in 14 months after doctors warned him of an impending heart attack.
Ali Mohamed, 42, an engineer in the oil and gas industry, weighed 180kg and had struggled to lose weight since 2011.
He started exercising in the summer of 2020 to shed the kilos but during his workouts, he sweated profusely, complained of feeling uneasy, and felt a burning sensation in his chest.
He first thought it was indigestion but when the symptoms persisted even after six weeks, he went to see a doctor at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
“Ali had all the traditional risk factors for severe heart disease as he was obese, diabetic and a smoker,” said Dr Hani Sabbour, a cardiologist at the hospital.
“On top of that, he had a strong family history of heart disease and extremely high cholesterol.
“When we ran our tests on Ali, the results were shocking. He was in urgent need of a bypass. The only good news for him was that he had been experiencing ‘warning’ heart attacks that had not damaged his heart muscle.”
Mr Mohamed was advised to go for open-heart surgery as less invasive procedures such as stents would not work. His high cholesterol would block them easily.
“I was shocked and scared when the doctors gave me the news,” he said.
“I was asking myself how this could be at my young age and whether these were my last days in this world.
“I have always tried to lose weight and be healthier but other things got in the way.
“I spoke to my wife and I decided that from now on, my health would be my number one priority.”
After the surgery in August 2020, Mr Mohamed was put on a strict diet and exercise regime to control his diabetes and lower his cholesterol.
He stopped smoking and started working out three times per week and eating a much healthier diet.
He shed 34kg because of the lifestyle changes and his cholesterol levels dropped by more than 75 per cent.
He also saw significant improvement in his blood pressure and HbA1c – a key indicator of his overall blood sugar control.
“I feel like a different person. I have cut sugar from my diet and eat very healthily now,” Mr Mohamed said.
“I also follow my workout routine three times a week without fail. Now I am trying to encourage my family to do the same.”
Dr Sabbour said the change they have seen in Mr Mohamed has been amazing.
“He demonstrates that with the right motivation and clinical support, the mind really can triumph over matter,” he said.
“He has managed to overcome many hurdles to transform his life for the better. His decision to start exercising and his warning heart attack might have saved his life. Without them, his condition might have progressed even further.”