Smoker 'dies' nine times as Abu Dhabi doctors pull patient from the brink

Egyptian heart attack victim vows to quit 60-a-day habit to turn life around

A recovering heart attack patient resuscitated several times by emergency doctors in Abu Dhabi said excessive smoking contributed to his illness.

Adel Shawqi, 59, was taken to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi after suffering chest pains.

Less than an hour after his arrival in the emergency room, Mr Shawqi, who lives in Abu Dhabi, went into cardiac arrest, stopped breathing and collapsed.

Medics immediately went into crash mode and tried to revive the patient, using a defibrillator nine times to eventually restart his heart.

“This was an extraordinary case,” said Dr Jacques Kobersy, chairman of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Emergency Medicine Institute.

“Shortly after arriving ... Adel suddenly lost his pulse, stopped breathing and went into a life-threatening heart rhythm.

“We would re-start his heart with the defibrillator shock, but then he would again lose his pulse and arrest.

“This happened repeatedly and Adel actually required nine shocks in all. We would not give up.”

Paramedics performed an electrocardiogram test – in which sensors show the heart’s condition – on Mr Shawqi in the ambulance.

As a result, doctors were prepared to give the patient the best chance of survival. After his resuscitation, doctors inserted a stent into a blocked artery that had caused the problem. The procedure widened the passage, enabling blood to flow freely around his body.

Only a few days later, Mr Shawqi, from Egypt, could breathe unaided once more. Within two weeks, he had recovered enough to return home to his family.

Mr Shawqi, who had previously recovered from two strokes, said his terrifying ordeal forced him to quit smoking and re-evaluate his life.

“I felt very poorly and had immense chest pain, so I asked my wife to call an ambulance,” he said.

I have promised my wife that I will stop smoking

Mr Shawqi said a lack of exercise and excessive smoking could be blamed for his poor heart condition. Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and is the leading cause of preventable deaths.

“This was a very traumatic experience for my wife,” he said.

“I have promised her that I will stop smoking so that we can be healthy for the rest of our lives.”

After smoking about 60 cigarettes a day, Mr Shawqi has quit altogether.

The Tobacco Atlas, a collection of industry data showing the impact of smoking on public health, indicates tobacco kills 52 men each week in the UAE.

More than 900,000 men and boys aged over 15 use tobacco products every day in the country, as do 35,500 women and girls.

A report by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World said 15 of the largest tobacco companies were not doing enough to phase out cigarettes and replace them with alternatives such as vaporisers.

The Tobacco Transformation Index is the first ranking of the world’s largest tobacco companies on how they are reducing the harm tobacco does.

The 2020 index assesses tobacco companies’ activities from 2017 to 2019 and ranks Swedish Match, which divested its cigarette-only business in 1999, in first position followed by Phillip Morris International and British American Tobacco in third.

In 2019, 13 of the 15 tobacco companies in the index generated at least 95 per cent of net sales value through high-risk tobacco products including cigarettes.

In the same year, Swedish Match’s sales of reduced-risk products accounted for 44 per cent of its net sales, followed by Philip Morris at 19 per cent and British American Tobacco with 5 per cent.

Authors of the index said overall progress in reducing smoking globally remained frustratingly slow.

“Society and large institutional investors such as banks and pension funds, which represent 85 per cent of investment in publicly traded tobacco companies, have the leverage to push tobacco company management to drive measures that greatly improve health,” said Dr Derek Yach, President of The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

“We want to accelerate change, and lower the unnecessary disease, death and misery [tobacco] causes so many people.”