The Heart Hospital of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) performs more than 1,000 acute coronary surgeries each year, on patients with ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI), commonly known as heart attack. Worldwide, the condition is a leading cause of death and treatment of patients at HMC exceeds international benchmarks.

According to Dr Abdulrahman Arabi, Deputy Chair of Cardiology for Clinical Affairs and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the Heart Hospital, what differentiates the Heart Hospital from other hospitals meeting international benchmark is the fact that they are able to achieve the best international standards despite having high numbers of patients, compared to other cardiology hospitals. This is achieved, he said, not only because of their state-of-the-art facility, but because they have highly trained and experienced staff.

Treating a Heart Attack

Normal vs clogged heart artery
(Image from

A STEMI is a serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked. The international ‘door to balloon’ benchmark (the time that elapses from the patient’s arrival time at the hospital to the time the blocked artery is opened) is 90 minutes; at the Heart Hospital, it is around 60 minutes.

ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction is the most serious of all types of acute coronary problems. Once a case is suspected, ambulance paramedics will obtain the patient’s electrocardiogram while still in their home or workplace, or wherever the incident occurred. The ECG is then wire-transferred immediately to the Heart Hospital and if the case is confirmed, the Cath Lab will be informed and the team will be ready to perform angioplasty immediately. This life-saving procedure is done within an average time of 60 minutes from arrival.’

The priority in treating a STEMI heart attack is to open the artery quickly, saving as much heart muscle as possible. Dr Arabi says an angioplasty, which involves inserting a balloon-tipped catheter to unclog the vessel, is performed to restore blood flow through the artery.

Coronary angioplasty is done to widen an artery blocked by plaque. After the procedure, the patient will stay in the hospital for three to five days and then be discharged home.’

Coronary artery disease (narrowing of the arteries) is a type of cardiovascular disease which includes conditions that affect the structures or function of the heart. It remains the most prevalent form of heart disease in Qatar. Over 90% of the 4,000 heart-related procedures performed at the Heart Hospital’s Cath Lab each year are related to coronary artery disease.

The most common symptom of coronary artery disease in men is chest pain, but pain or pressure can also be felt in the shoulder, arms, back, neck, and jaw. Symptoms in women are often more subtle and can include nausea, sweating, fatigue, and shortness of breath, in addition to the more typical pressure-like chest pain. Dr Arabi says coronary artery disease is a chronic illness which manifests acutely with a heart attack.

The successful management of coronary artery disease depends on long-term preventive strategy, with patient and family engagement being critical. Before discharge, all patients are counseled about preventive measures, risk factor modifications, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. All patients are also assessed for enrolment in cardiac rehabilitation.’

Cardiac rehabilitation, which is a medically supervised programme that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems can be an important part of recovery from heart attack. However, Dr Arabi says controlling the risk factors for coronary artery disease by getting enough exercise, quitting smoking, making heart-healthy nutrition choices, and reducing stress are essential.

Controlling risk factors will significantly reduce the risk of future events and help in the successful management of heart disease, especially if the patient is actively engaged in their own care.’

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