UAE: Indian expat suffers massive heart attack while driving, survives car crash

Keralite Jacob John Nediambath: Happy to be alive
Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: A 57-year-old Indian expat, who suffered a massive heart attack while driving and crashed his car in Sharjah, has survived – and how.

Keralite Jacob John Nediambath told Gulf News on Tuesday: “I am very grateful to be alive.”

Ironically, the incident occurred when Nediambath was driving to a clinic for a periodic health check with his general physician.

An employee with a public utilities company in Dubai, Nediambath said he maintained a healthy lifestyle and made it a point to visit the doctor every six months for a consultation and preventive health check. “I decided to go in for the tests that day as I my wife Bincy and children were travelling and I was home alone.”

Jacob John Nediambath with his wife Bincy and two children.
Image Credit: Supplied

He said, “I usually take a particular route to this clinic located in Rolla. But that day, I happened to go on a longer route and entered the Clock Tower roundabout near NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah,” he said. “It must have been around 11 am and I do not remember anything else. The next thing I knew was that I was in the ICU of the hospital,” he added.

It turns out that Nediambath suffered a massive heart attack behind the wheels, lost control over his grey sedan and crashed into the roundabout.

As Dr. Mohammed Shabbir P, Head of Emergency Medicine at NMC Royal Hospital Sharjah, who filled in the blanks, said, “We came to know from a few good Samaritans about the accident at the roundabout outside our hospital. We immediately dispatched a team of nurses and caregivers with stretchers. We saw the patient lying unconscious in his car. No other vehicle was involved.”

Jacob John Nediambath with Dr. Adel Eryani at NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah.
Image Credit: Supplied

He said Nediambath had no pulse and was not responsive when he was wheeled into the ER. “Accordingly, the Code Blue protocol, systems and processes around a heart attack patient were initiated. Time was a key factor in saving his life as any delay could have damaged his heart permanently.”

The doctors connected Nediambath to a cardiac monitor and started giving him ventricular fibrillations, the 200 joules shock to wake up his heart, alongside Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation to maintain his oxygen levels. Their efforts paid off, and Jacob’s rhythm and pulse began to be felt. He was then put on a ventilator and diagnosed with an ST elevation (STEMI) myocardial infarction.

What is STEMI?

Dr. Adel Eryani, Head of the Department and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at NMC Royal Hospital Sharjah, explained just how dangerous STEMI can be.

“This is the deadliest of heart attacks involving the left main coronary artery, also infamously called the widow artery. STEMI is total or near total blockage of this coronary artery. The block results in a massive heart attack, impacting two thirds of the heart. In a compromised heart function, a patient is most likely to have cardiac arrest and arrhythmias, very dangerous and often classified as a major reason of mortality or instant cardiac death.”

indian expat accident 61-1663065051355
Jacob John Nediambath with the medical team that treated him at NMC Royal Hospital Sharjah.
Image Credit: Supplied

In Nediambath’s case, the doctors concede that he was lucky he was just outside a hospital with the required facilities like ICU and Cath lab when the incident occurred. Moreover, the car crash propelled and activated instant help to reach him.

Time is the key

Dr Adel said, “The cath lab was activated, and the patient was moved from emergency. We did an angiogram. The main artery as blocked, causing the heart attack. In addition, the patient had a big clot. After removing it, we put a stent, allowing blood to flow to the heart.”

The doctor explained that time taken for intervention is extremely crucial in such cases and it decides the extent of permanent damage to the heart muscle and lead to a heart failure. “In this patient’s case, we managed to open his artery within 20 minutes,” he added.

All this while, however, Nediambath’s wife Bincy was oblivious to what had happened. She later said: “His office found out about his condition by late afternoon as he failed to report for duty. I came to know in the evening, and coincidentally I was to fly back to Sharjah the same night. My husband usually takes good care of himself and I had this sinking feeling: What could have gone wrong so suddenly?”

indian expat accident 767-1663065053122
Jacob John Nediambath was discharged after six days in hospital.
Image Credit: Supplied

When she met Nediambath at the ICU, it was an emotional moment.

But shock apart, Bincy was reassured that Jacob was on the road to recovery.

Patient’s medical history

Significantly, Nediambath had no history of heart ailments or diabetes. He was non-smoker too. However, his cholesterol was high, though not unduly alarming. Doctors said it is advisable to keep cholesterol levels under control, tweak one’s lifestyle, stay active and make healthier choices in terms of food. Where advised medication, patients must take them without fail.

Nediambath said he was lucky to have received timely help and survived. “I sometime shudder to think what could have happened if I had been somewhere else, or alone at home? Things could have so easily gone another way. I am so thankful to the Almighty, the Good Samaritans who came to my rescue and of course, the doctors who treated me.”

Nediambath, who was discharged after six days in hospital, has resumed work now.