‘The fast rhythm would kill me. It was risky and could’ve lead to a stroke’
Doctors in Abu Dhabi have cured a fitness instructor of a disorder that made her heart beat 220 times per minute.
It was in 2017 that Asma Mahjoub, a 41-year-old mother of three kids, experienced chest pain, breathlessness and dizziness. “I thought it was because of not taking my breakfast or over exercising. I thought it was related to my blood pressure and sugar levels because I had never had a cardiac problem. I took a break and ate something. After 15-20 minutes, the pain was gone,” she said.
A similar episode returned after a few months but its severity made her rush to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “This time my heart rhythm was really bothering me. I couldn’t breathe and went to the emergency department. They found that my heart was beating 220 per minute. It was very high. The fast rhythm would kill me. It was risky and could’ve lead to a stroke.”
Asma was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia – a condition that can cause the heart to beat over 200 times per minute. She was given medicine to slow her heart rate if she experienced another episode. Yet, after six months, she nearly collapsed again.
“This one was really dangerous. My blood pressure went extremely low. The pain went away after I took medicine.”
‘Best decision of my life’
Asma was referred to an electrophysiologist who diagnosed her with a form of arrythmia called AV nodal re-entry tachycardia. Her rapid heartbeat was caused by an electrical loop in a specific part of her heart. She was given a choice to either continue medication or undergo a cardiac ablation procedure – a decision she delayed by a year.
“I wasn’t not ready for an ablation. They explained about putting things through vein to my heart. I took medication and followed-up every two months.”
After six months, Asma agreed to do the minimally invasive ablation procedure and put an end to three years of worry. “I was afraid. But actually I didn’t feel anything during or after the surgery. This was the best decision of my life. I hope my story can inspire others to take the right steps.”
Meanwhile, doctors urge women to identify heart diseases, which is a leading cause of death. “As a fitness instructor, Asma doesn’t fit the classic picture of a heart disease patient. It’s important that people realise arrythmia can affect anybody of any age with some forms affecting women more often than men. These conditions are treatable with a safe and quick procedure that completely cures it,” said Dr Mohamed Al Jaabari, an electrophysiologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
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