Tuesday, November 27, 2012

why you must tell your doctor everything.


53-yr-old man due for minor hand surgery. smokes but denied any known medical problem. a manual worker in the plantatiuon.

a routine pre-operative ECG showed that he had a recent myocardial infarct, aka heart attack. when asked in detail if he had any chest pain recently, he thought for awhile & said he did have a gastric-like pain 2 weeks ago & was a bit breathless at that time. however, he felt better after that without seeing a doctor.

as we all know, a myocardial infarct sometimes presents with atypical symptoms (read here) which are often ignored. for doctors, these should trigger off the alarm bells.

a blood test confirmed the recent infarct. he was informed of his condition & advised that the surgery should be postponed till the cardiologist checked him up. he subsequently had an angiogram which showed that 3 arteries in his heart were significantly blocked. he is scheduled for cardiac bypass surgery in a few week's time.

if he had undergone the hand surgery, there's a 1-in-3 chance that he will have another heart attack, in which case, there is a 50% chance he will succumb to it. which means that, if we had proceeded with surgery, there's a 1-in-6 chance, ie. 16%, that he will die on the operating table.

grim statistics but a solemn reminder of our mortality.

so the next time your doctor asks you if you have any medical problems, think carefully before you answer.

it could well save your life!

2 comments:

Andrea Boult said...

Thanks for the timely reminder, Doc. I have got my parents to write this down --> "Remember to inform the doctor of any chest pain" on the front of their respective medical record book. This is in event of an emergency and I am not home at that time to remember such things.

:)

doc said...

Andrea,

on our part, we all should inform EVERYTHING, no matter how trivial. it's the doctors' responsibility to filter thru the info.