For three months, 58 year-old Indonesian businessman Aminuddin Halim had difficulty talking. A one-month medication period did not help to ease the pain and doctors in Indonesia finally diagnosed him with paralysis of the vocal chords. A local ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist referred Mr Halim to Singapore and recommended for him to consult doctors at the ENT department of Mount Elizabeth Hospital. The family was reassured by the fact that the specialist had previously referred patients to Singapore for medical treatment. Mr Halim arrived in Singapore shortly after, with his mother, son and daughter.

Upon further examination, doctors at Mount Elizabeth discovered that Mr Halim’s loss of voice was due to complications from an earlier operation he had in Indonesia on his heart. Mr Halim had previously undergone surgery to insert a stent into a blocked artery. Mr Halim was quickly transferred to the National Heart Centre where heart specialists were better equipped to manage his condition.

After a series of tests and assessment of his condition, doctors at the National Heart Centre diagnosed him with descending thoracic aortic aneurysm, an enlargement of the aorta. This caused his vocal chords to be compressed, resulting in difficulty of speech. A few days later, Mr Halim underwent an operation to correct the problem. An untreated aortic aneurysm may cause excessive internal hemorrhaging leading to death.

Post-operation, Mr Halim was warded for a day in the intensive care unit and another in a high-dependency ward. In total, Mr Halim spent eight days in hospital, which he described as a hotel like accommodation.
Visibly more comfortable and at ease after the operation, Mr Halim expressed his satisfaction with doctors at the National Heart Centre . “The doctors were very informative. They told me everything that I needed to know in detail. They did not try to hide anything from me. I can talk much better now and louder as well. The nurses were very professional, friendly and caring.”

The family described this trip to Singapore as an eye-opener and was marveled by the safety and detailed system of the medical services in Singapore.

The National Heart Centre 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 specialises 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.

The National Heart Centre is a member of Singapore Health Services.

What is descending thoracic aortic aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of a weakened area of the aorta. Aneurysms tend to get progressively larger and if left untreated, may rupture and cause lifethreatening internal haemorrhage. Most aortic aneurysms do not show any symptoms and are detected during imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans and MRI.

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