Despite inheriting high cholesterol from both his mother and father, Edwin, 29, Singapore, never suspected he would experience a heart attack so young, if ever, at all.
One evening, when working at home on his computer, Edwin developed chest pain which intensified over the ensuing hours.
“It felt like my chest was being compressed by an unknown force. I felt no pain, just extreme tightness and heaviness. I thought I was going to run out of air. After having a rest, the tightness went away.
But when I tried to stand up again, the tightness returned. That’s when I knew something was really wrong. I moved my mattress to the floor, hoping that would help. But instead, I broke out in a cold sweat, developed numbness in my arms, and started struggling to breathe,” said Edwin.
Convinced he was on the verge of dying, Edwin ordered his parents to call him an ambulance without delay. “Given I thought I was going to die, I said goodbye to my family. My mother and sister were crying, while my father was panicking. Thankfully, we live really close to a hospital, so the ambulance arrived within a few minutes,” Edwin said.
Edwin was rushed to emergency and straight into theatre, where the doctors soon discovered he had a 95 percent blockage to one artery in his heart, and a 35 percent blockage to another. So they promptly inserted two stents. “I was given a local anaesthesia, so was awake throughout the entire angioplasty. The procedure felt like it went forever. I remember lying there wide awake, in shock, and highly traumatized,” said Edwin.
Post- surgery, Edwin has been visiting his cardiologist every three months and taking two daily blood thinning medications, which he will remain on the rest of his life. He has also been visiting a physiotherapist at the Singapore Heart Foundation twice-a-week, who monitors his health and wellbeing.
Edwin’s heart attack has proven life-altering. “I’ve had a 360-degree lifestyle change. Although I used to indulge in the nightlife scene, drinking, partying, and smoking socially with my friends, I stopped all of these activities after having my heart attack, because I want to live life to the fullest,” Edwin said.
Having set a positive example for his friends, they too, have since transformed their lives accordingly.
“Most of my friends have also transformed their lifestyles to prevent having a heart attack like me, at such a young age. Although we used to hang out at night four-times-a-week, eating unhealthy food and drinking, we now meet during the day, to stop us from slipping back into bad habits,” said Edwin.
Edwin urges all members the community to be aware of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), emphasizing a heart attack could occur at any age.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, you could be at risk of experiencing, and potentially dying from, a heart attack. Take good care of your health, and do everything in moderation, because you never know what’s around the corner. A heart attack can come out of the blue, and it can prove devastating,” Edwin said.