At 33, he needed a heart bypass
52-year-old more hopeful of future after taking new heart drug
Mr Rosli Mat Sham, 52, was only in his 20s when he had the first of his three heart attacks.
"It felt like someone had used a nail to punch the left side of my body," he said.
At that time, Mr Rosli did not know it was a heart attack and a general practitioner had told him that it was nothing serious.
But when he sought a second opinion, he realised it was not a simple ache - there were three blockages in his heart.
He said: "When I knew I had a heart problem, the first thing I thought of was my family. Who's going to take care of them? How are they going to survive?"
His mind can now be put at ease with the introduction of a new drug, Entresto.
A clinical trial has shown it works better than the commonly prescribed enalapril.
Mr Rosli was one of the 32 Singapore patients who took part in the trial.
Mr Rosli's heart problem was unexpected as he was generally healthy.
After the first heart attack, Mr Rosli went through two "ballooning" surgeries, where a small balloon was inserted into each of the blocked blood vessels and then inflated to reduce the blockage.
But after his second heart attack in 1997, his doctor recommended a bypass.
"I panicked when the doctor told me to go for a bypass. I was only 33 years old," said Mr Rosli, a helper at a roti john stall in Yishun.
In a bypass, a blood vessel is taken from another part of the body and placed in the heart to circumvent the block in the affected blood vessel.
The operation allows blood to flow regularly again through the other vessel.
Mr Rosli agreed to the operation after a month of deliberation and encouragement from family and friends.
By keeping a careful watch on his diet, consistently exercising and punctually taking his medicine, Mr Rosli is now able to work and support his family.
His wife, Madam Anna Ong, 42, a senior executive, said: "I'll conscientiously prepare his medicine for him and make sure he takes it every morning."
Urging others to take care of their health by going for regular check-ups, Mr Rosli said: "You can't see your heart condition, but you can feel it in your body.
"Don't ignore the symptoms."
"It felt like someone had used a nail to punch the left side of my body."
- Mr Rosli Mat Sham on the first heart attack he had
New drug performing better
Following the largest worldwide trial involving patients with heart failure, a new drug was approved by the Health Sciences Authority last month, pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced yesterday.
The new drug for heart failure, Entresto, is available only at the National Heart Centre for now.
But work is in progress to make it available in other hospitals as soon as possible, said Novartis spokesman Mathew Thomas.
Compared to enalapril, a drug commonly prescribed for heart failure, trial results showed Entrestro reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular causes by 20 per cent and heart failure hospitalisations by 21 per cent, said Novartis.
It works by blocking a hormone system that increases the heart's workload and delaying the degradation of a protein that helps to relieve stress on the heart.
The trial involved 8,442 patients, of whom 32 were from Singapore.
Originally planned to span three years, the trial ended after 27 months when results showed the drug to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular death.
National lead investigator of the trial, Dr Raymond Wong, senior consultant for the department of cardiology at National University Heart Centre, Singapore, said: "Heart failure is a common condition, affecting the young and old. In Singapore, there are more than 6,000 hospital admissions (in 2015) for heart failure.
"The diagnostic and treatment process can be complex and costly to both the healthcare system as well as the individuals.
"Hence, advancement of heart failure therapy, as well as cost-effective management of the chronic disease, is a priority in many countries."
Entrestro will be more expensive than enalapril, said Mr Thomas.
A check with three hospitals revealed the price of a 10mg pill of enalapril to range between 11 and 21 cents.
The trial's lead investigator at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Dr Ong Hean Yee, senior consultant and head of the cardiology department, said: "Based on the results of the trial, I will prescribe the drug to my patients."