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!


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...


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