Abu Dhabi: An Emirati engineer who experienced warning heart attacks because of his poor health has lost 34kg in one year after his bypass surgery. Given his brush with heart disease, Ali Mohamed, 41, is now encouraging others to prioritise their health and wellbeing.
Warning heart attacks
He had struggled with his weight for decades, peaking at 180kg. The Emirati, who worked in the oil-and-gas sector, then began working out to lose weight in 2011, and last summer, he started an exercise regimen to accelerate his weight loss. But during his workouts, Mohamed felt a burning sensation in his chest and experienced profuse sweating.
Putting it down to simple indigestion, Mohamed waited six weeks to see a doctor. When he finally visited the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), the results came as a shock.
“Mohamed had all the traditional risk factors for severe heart disease as he was obese, diabetic and a smoker. On top of that, he had a strong family history of heart disease and extremely high cholesterol levels that run in his family. When we ran our tests on him, the results were shocking. He was in urgent need of a bypass. The only good news for him was that he had been experiencing ‘warning’ heart attacks that had not damaged his heart muscle,” said Dr Hani Sabbour, a cardiologist at CCAD.
“I was shocked and scared when the doctors gave me the news. I was asking myself how this could [happen to me at such a young age] and whether these would be my last days in this world,” Mohamed said.
His care team at the hospital explained to Mohamed that he should have the surgery as soon as possible. Due to his extremely high cholesterol level, less invasive solutions such as stents would not have worked.
Following the procedure, Mohamed decided to prioritise his health.
“I have always tried to lose weight and be healthier, but other things got in the way. I spoke to my wife and I decided that from now on, my health would be my number one priority,” Mohamed said.
He began working with the hospital’s cardiometabolic clinic to help manage his diet and exercise, control his diabetes and lower his cholesterol. Mohamed also stopped smoking, began working out three times a week, and eating a much healthier diet. The lifestyle changes enabled Mohamed to lose 34kg in the year since his surgery. In addition to his weight loss, Mohamed’s cholesterol level dropped by more than 75 per cent, while his blood pressure and blood sugar levels also improved significantly.
“Thanks to my new diet and exercise programme, I feel like a different person. Having Dr Sabbour and the team answer questions and guide me down the right path has been fantastic. They showed me that anything is possible. I have cut sugar from my diet and eat healthy now. I also follow my workout routine three times a week without fail. Now I am trying to encourage my family to do the same,” Mohamed said.
His transformation exemplifies the importance of recognising risk factors and symptoms of cardiac issues and the power of following a healthy lifestyle, Mohamed’s care team has said.
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“The change we’ve seen in Mohamed has been amazing. He demonstrates that with the right motivation and clinical support, the mind really can triumph over matter. He has managed to overcome many hurdles to transform his life for the better. His decision to start exercising and his warning heart attack might have saved his life. Without them, his condition might have progressed even further,” Dr Sabbour said.
The hospital also runs a dedicated campaign — MENtion It — that encouraged men to be more open about their health.