In this inspiring recount of his heart attack, Bernard Colombo, Region Head Roche Diagnostics Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, shares his biggest learning and his journey since.
Bernard Colombo, a father of two, is a diagnostics industry veteran, who until that day in March 2019 never realised that the testing solutions he promotes would one day save his life.
Like many other acute heart attack survivors, Bernard did not realise that he had a heart condition. He had a light exercise regimen that consisted of walking and cycling, and was never one to describe himself as having chronic ailments. He had a clean bill of health, never taking as much as a sick day in his 30 years at Roche.
Like many senior executives, Bernard’s work required long hours and frequent travel. This often came by sacrificing time with his family.
The day that changed everything
At the time, Bernard was on a work trip, and he thought the day would unfold like many others. He was quickly proved wrong. He had woken up feeling exhausted – something was off, but he wasn’t sure what.
Once Bernard reached the office, he had difficulty breathing and only then decided to seek medical attention. A quick diagnostic test led the in-house doctor to suspect that Bernard was having a cardiac event, and he was immediately transported to an emergency room. Further diagnostic tests at the hospital confirmed that Bernard was suffering from an acute heart attack. Upon closer observation and tests, doctors told Bernard that his main coronary artery was obstructed at around 99%, leading to his heart muscles being deprived of oxygen. This could have very likely been the end. Thankfully though, Bernard was able to get the treatment he needed, aided by the timely diagnosis he received.
This life-changing event pushed Bernard to make some changes to his lifestyle. He now listens carefully to his own body and is conscious about living a more balanced life. He is also more aware of the people around him and advises everyone to play an active role in managing their health. “If you are in doubt of symptoms, if you notice something that has changed, take it seriously and act on it early,” says Bernard.