Dubai resident calls for early heart screenings after near-death experience

One of the UAE’s leading cardiologists says 40 is now the high-risk age

Dubai resident Andy Gibbins needed emergency surgery after problems with his heart were detected during a routine check-up. Photo: Andy Gibbins
Powered by automated translation

After surviving a near-death experience, a Dubai resident has called for people over 50 to ensure they get regular health check-ups.

Andy Gibbins, 59, felt as fit as a fiddle before undergoing a routine health check-up this month.

However, it soon emerged he had serious issues with his heart and he was taken to hospital for emergency surgery.

Mr Gibbins said he was scared to think what might have happened if his condition had not been detected.

People here are often inactive for long periods and then try to suddenly train for a marathon or something equally stressful
Dr Koshy Georgey Kunnumpuram, Burjeel Medical City

“I booked myself into Mediclinic Parkview Hospital for one of the standard tests they offer men over 50,” said Mr Gibbins, who is from the UK and works in the oil and gas sector.

“Part of the test was walking on a treadmill hooked to an ECG machine. Everything was fine until they increased the speed and incline.

“It soon became clear something was very wrong.

“They booked me in for an angiogram, which showed there were issues with three of my main arteries.”

One of the arteries was completely blocked, with another 80 per cent and the third 50 per cent blocked, the tests showed.

Mr Gibbins said he was taken from Parkview to City Hospital and sent straight to the ICU.

“Once my insurance was cleared I underwent a triple bypass,” he added.

Similar experience

Mr Gibbins said he wanted to share his story to help inform men of a similar age of the importance of regular health check-ups.

“I’m not overweight, I am pretty active and I don’t smoke,” he said.

“I only got checked out because my father had a similar experience around the same age and I didn’t want to take it for granted.

“The diagnosis really came out of the blue. The only kind of red flag was what had happened to my father.”

He also thanked the staff at Parkview for their ability to quickly spot the problems and save his life.

He has made a strong recovery from his operation and is already back in the gym.

Younger cases

More than half of the UAE population has a relative or friend with a heart condition, according to a 2021 study from Cleveland Clinic.

The survey said more than one in two had not had their heart health checked for more than two years, with 30 per cent admitting they had never done so.

One of the UAE’s leading cardiologists said leaving it to the age of 40 to address the health of your heart could even be too late.

“It used to be the case that 50 and over was the age when people started to become especially vulnerable,” said Dr Koshy Georgey Kunnumpuram, medical director and consultant in cardiology and interventional cardiology at Burjeel Medical City, Abu Dhabi.

“Now we’re seeing it is more the case that 40 is the high-risk age right now.”

There are a number of ways residents could modify their lifestyle, he said, such as becoming more active and getting regular exercise, quitting smoking and improving diet.

Dr Kunnumpuram also urged residents aged 40 and over to get heart check-ups at least every two years.

“It’s usually the case that these behaviours follow each other,” he said.

“Someone who is active and does the right amount of exercise is unlikely to smoke and eat the wrong foods.”

People trying to do too much too quickly was another issue that was becoming more common in the UAE, added Dr Kunnumpuram, who said he had noticed an increase in patient numbers recently due to this.

“People here are often inactive for long periods and then try to suddenly train for a marathon or something equally stressful,” he said.

“It can be very enticing, especially with all the posts on social media that make these things look easy but they are far from it.

“You need to take a moderate approach and get there gradually.”

Updated: April 04, 2023, 4:34 AM