For three years, Vietnamese Mdm Nguyen Thi Sen experienced shortness of breath and frequent coughing. When her symptoms worsened a year ago, Mdm Nguyen consulted a specialist in Ho Chi Minh City who informed her of an impending heart problem.

Mdm Nguyen’s daughter, Phuong Lee, decided to send her mother overseas for treatment. She felt that her mother’s condition was worsening and prompt treatment was required. Phuong Lee’s husband suggested that Mdm Nguyen be sent to the National Heart Centre in Singapore for consultation and treatment.

Mdm Nguyen underwent a percutaneous procedure  to correct a secundum atrial septal defect, commonly known as "a hole in the heart".

The morning following the operation, Mdm Nguyen was up and about, and able to walk and eat as normal. Phuong Lee and her mother were visibly happy and eagerly expressed their satisfaction with the operation. "Look at my mother now. She is so healthy and very happy after the operation. The price of the operation is less in Singapore as compared to one in Australia or in America. The healthcare treatments in Singapore are as good as in America. The medical equipment are top-notch and the hospital facilities are first-rate too."

Mdm Nguyen was discharged after 14 days in the hospital and Phuong Lee took her shopping the day after, using a wheelchair.  She exclaimed, "I like Singapore.  The shopping is great.  We were out from early morning till late night yesterday."  Phuong Lee added, "We will tell the people in Vietnam about the high standard of healthcare facilities and medical treatments in Singapore. A lot of people in Vietnam are ignorant on treatment options."

"My mother wants to help the people in Vietnam who do not know about the types of medical treatments offered overseas.  She wants to tell them about the National Heart Centre ." Speaking in Vietnamese, Mcm Nguyen said, "I hope that people with this same problem will know about the National Heart Centre and visit Singapore for treatment."

The National Heart Centre , a member of Singapore Health Services, is the national referral centre for cardiovascular disease in Singapore. It provides comprehensive preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative cardiac services to local and overseas patients. The Centre also specializes in managing patients who are at a higher risk for future cardiovascular disease due to the presence of multiple cardiac risk factors or a history of known cardiovascular disease.

What is secundum atrial septal defect?
Secundum atrial septal defect is an abnormal opening between the left and right atria of the heart, leading to blood flowing from the left atrium to the right atrium. This defect is commonly known as a “hole in the heart”. Symptoms include shortness of breath, intolerance to exercise, fatigue and heart palpitations. If left uncorrected, secundum atrial septal defect can cause rhythm disturbances, heart failure or stroke. Individuals with the condition may not experience significant symptoms in early adulthood, but generally become symptomenty when they are past 40 years of age.

What is a TransOesophageal Echocardiogram (TOE)?
A TransOesophageal Echocardiogram is an ultrasound scan of the heart performed by passing a probe through the esophagus. This test looks at the structure of the heart chambers and valves and is useful for assessing chamber size and action, and heart valve movement. It enables your doctor to find holes in the heart, blood clots or evidence of infection. A TransOesophageal Echocardiogram is the most accurate way of assessing the heart's structure and function.

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