Man who had severe headache ends up needing 12-hour life-saving heart operation

Quick-thinking doctors at Dubai Hospital identified a rare cardiac condition in the Sri Lankan man, 41, and saved his life by performing a timely operation.

DUBAI // A Sri Lankan man who went to hospital complaining of a severe headache was plunged into a 12-hour life-saving heart operation thanks to quick-thinking doctors who identified a rare cardiac condition.

Complex cardiac surgery was performed at Dubai Hospital by Dr Faouzi Safadi, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, who said the 41-year-old man should make a full recovery.

Symptoms of the type of aortic dissection are usually a ripping chest pain and faintness, but Dr Safadi said the man’s condition was masked by a throbbing headache.

Misdiagnoses can be fatal, as surgery is often required immediately after diagnoses to reduce damage and increase survival chances.

During the procedure, a constant flow of blood was pumped to the patient’s brain to help limit the damage.

“The patient should make a full recovery, although he will need lifelong medication,” said Lebanese Dr Safadi.

“He was transferred from another hospital after reporting with a severe headache. The pain was so intense it disguised his chest pain. We did some investigations and declared it as an emergency case and he needed immediate surgery.”

In these situations, quick and precise intervention is necessary as an aortic dissection can lead to massive bleeding around the heart and shutdown of the body’s vital organs, such as the brain, kidneys, liver, and can lead to immediate death.

Dubai Hospital has become a pioneer in heart surgeries through its highly qualified staff.

Blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate. Emergency surgery is needed to stop the bleeding, replace the torn blood vessels and ensure the heart is functioning.

“A 12-hour procedure is normal, as it included surgery preparation, the act itself and the specific type of recovery that he needed,” said Dr Safadi.

“Once we had controlled the bleeding and the patient was stable, we could end the surgery. After 12 hours, he was awake and sitting up in bed, free of any assistance.

“He’ll be discharged very soon.”