No symptoms till disease is severe

Cardiologist Soon Chao Yang said coronary atherosclerosis is a disease that leads to blockage of blood vessels of the heart.

"It is not uncommon as everybody eventually will develop it with ageing. Some will get it faster than others," said Dr Soon of Nobel Heart Centre, based at Mount Alvernia Hospital.

He added that there are generally no symptoms until the disease becomes severe.

"Unfortunately, the more severe cases sometimes end up in sudden attacks, such as in this case here," said Dr Soon.

He said factors that lead to this condition include elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and diabetes.

"To keep all these factors in check, we have to lead a healthy lifestyle and screen for them regularly," he said.

But there are also factors beyond our control, such as gender, ethnicity and family history.

"It is more common in guys, and woman have lower risks until after menopause," he said.

Several social footballers in Singapore have died from heart attacks, but even professionals have not been spared.

They include:

  • PIERMARIO MOROSINI, APRIL 14, 2012: The 25-year-old midfielder, who played for Italian club Livorno, fell to the ground in a Serie B match. He received urgent medical attention on the pitch but never regained consciousness, and was dead by the time he was taken to hospital. 
  • DANIEL JARQUE, AUG 8, 2009: The captain of Spanish side Espanyol died after a cardiac arrest following pre-season training. Club doctors and paramedics tried to revive the 26-year-old midfielder using CPR and a defibrillator, without success.
  • ANTONIO PUERTA, AUG 28, 2007: The wing-back of Spanish club Sevilla collapsed in the 35th minute of a La Liga match against Getafe on Aug 25, 2007. The 22-year-old was able to walk from the pitch but collapsed again in the changing rooms. He had to be given cardiac resuscitation before being taken to hospital. He died three days later.

This article was first published in The New Paper.