Your first impression of Doctor Ho Minh Tuan, head of FV Hospital’s Cardiology Department, is usually his straightforwardness. He does not refuse to answer any questions, even sensitive ones. He always chooses the simplest and most friendly way to explain complex medical topics. This approach means a conversation with him often opens new perspectives and interesting anecdotes about Dr Tuan and his chosen profession.
I dreamed of wearing a white coat and saving people since childhood
Dr Ho Minh Tuan laughs when I ask him if medicine was the ideal choice of career for him.
“An ideal sounds so far away and strange. When I chose to study medicine, my reasoning was because I liked it. At that time, I was only a high school student, and I couldn’t conceive of anything big yet. But ever since I went to the hospital to visit sick relatives as a child, I wanted to wear a white coat and care for people. Maybe that was also a sign that I was destined for a career as a doctor.”
There is another reason, but it was only when the interview became more open that Dr Tuan shared it: he was in a selective school since elementary school. Dr Tuan was in an advanced maths class from the third grade until he entered Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy with very high scores, averaging nine points. His family also recognised Dr Tuan’s ability and supported him in his career choice.
Accuracy, sharp thinking, and the discipline of a mathematician helped Dr Tuan enter the medical career relatively easily and have supported him over the last 20 years as he’s saved lives and cared for patients. Even when Dr Tuan is talking passionately about the medical examination and treatment procedures at FV, he always provides precise, carefully articulated answers.
“In my profession, there is a concept called the ‘golden hour’, which is the window we have to save people with cardiovascular disease. From the time the patient arrives at the hospital gate until the treatment is completed, the international standard is around 90 minutes. However, at FV Hospital, we’ve shortened the process to a maximum of 70 minutes, thanks to FV’s JCI standards, its experienced team of doctors and modern equipment.
“While 20 minutes may seem like a short period of time, with cardiovascular disease, it would be more correct to use the phrases “golden minutes” and “golden seconds”. Every minute of delay means an increase in risk to the patient’s life, health and recovery.
The family members of people with cardiovascular disease should bear the following in mind: when they have signs of shortness of breath, chest tightness, cardiac arrest or stroke, take them immediately to the nearest hospital. Absolutely do not wait or provide medicine that isn’t prescribed by a specialist specifically for instances of those symptoms.
“In more than 20 years, I have witnessed many extremely unfortunate cases when the patient arrived at the hospital too late. Even if their life is saved, their heart function and health cannot be restored to normal. Serious sequelae can occur because people miss the ‘golden hour’ window to receive urgent care.”
I joined FV because of its unique “save people, first” policy
Dr Tuan has held many important positions at big hospitals, including senior doctor at the Cardiology Department, Heart Institute, Ho Chi Minh City, and the role of Head of Imaging at Tam Duc Heart Hospital. More recently, Dr Tuan officially joined FV as the Head of the Department of Cardiology.
When asked why he came to work at FV, Dr Tuan freely shared: “There are many reasons, but the first factors that convinced me were the facilities, quality and advanced equipment of the hospital. For a medical practitioner like me, access to the latest equipment and facilities has a strong attraction. The more modern and advanced the equipment, the greater my ability to save a patient will be.
“And the second reason is very surprising. It is related to the hospital’s structure and policy. I don’t mention policies for the doctor but emphasise those for the patient.
“Frankly, I have worked at both domestic and international hospitals, even in countries with developed medical systems, such as Japan and Malaysia, but I have never seen this ‘regulation’ exist: First aid and treatment of the sick, cost calculated later. This is a sensitive, but important fact: treating a cardiovascular emergency can cost up to hundreds of millions of Vietnam dong. That’s a lot of money, especially when multiplied by many sick people. The problem of “cost” is always very difficult to solve, even internationally, not to mention in Vietnam,” says Dr Tuan.
He confided: “Up to this point, I’ve only seen the leaders of FV Hospital move forward with their decision to ‘save people first’, a decision that, in my opinion, is wonderful, not just for patients, but for doctors. As a medical professional, who doesn’t want to save lives, especially those of the patients right in front of them? There’s nothing more stressful than watching a sick person’s ‘golden hour’ pass with helplessness as we wait for an insurance company to confirm it will cover the cost of treatment. When these barriers are removed, doctors can have peace of mind and work to the best of our abilities.”
Talking about professional pressures, Dr Tuan just smiled: “It’s just a matter of getting used to doing a lot. Like me, for example, over 20 years in the profession, I have ensured that whenever a patient needs me, I will be at the hospital within 30 minutes, regardless of the time of day, rain or shine, or if it’s Tet holiday.
“That is also part of the process of saving patients at FV. During those 30 minutes it takes me to travel to the hospital, many tests and preparations were carried out. By the time I arrive, everything needed for surgery and stenting is ready. This procedure helps to minimise the patient’s recovery time and increase the chances of them living a healthy life.”
Devoted to running FV’s Cardiology Department
Dr Ho Minh Tuan’s voice slightly lowered when discussing the number of patients who die from cardiovascular diseases.
“It is true that cardiovascular disease accounts for more than 30 per cent of deaths, not only in Vietnam but also worldwide. This is due in part to the dangers of the disease, and partly to people’s lack of understanding.
“I want to send a short message: among the many causes of cardiovascular disease, we can limit them greatly by quitting smoking, quitting alcohol, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. All of these factors can contribute to reducing the chances of cardiovascular disease.
“I don’t think that heart disease is a disease of the elderly. I have personally saved a patient who was only 24 years old whose blood vessels had become blocked because he was a heavy smoker.”
Unfortunately, many people do not take patients to the hospital immediately when they experience symptoms. Many cases are only taken to the hospital when symptoms are severe, and when that patient has suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (the heart stops beating before they are taken to the hospital). In such cases, doctors can only do their best and expect a little luck.
During his medical practice, Dr Tuan has been directly involved in such spectacular “revival” events when the heart had stopped beating and the patient considered lost, but then were miraculously resuscitated.
“Actually, in cases where we save someone against the odds, I am always extremely happy. The feeling that I have contributed in some way to saving a life is probably the best part of my job!” explains Dr Tuan.
After 20 years in the medical profession, Dr Ho Minh Tuan has directly treated no fewer than 3,000 patients. The number of patients in cardiac arrest who were revived by Dr Tuan and his colleagues is around a dozen. In addition to his work at the hospital, Dr Tuan is also an experienced medical journalist. He has written several articles in the field of cardiology which have been published in professional journals, with the intention of sharing everything he knows with the medical community.
“I also read and learned a lot from my colleagues and predecessors, and it is my responsibility to continue the legacy of education,” adds Dr Tuan.
Despite saving countless lives, Dr Tuan is not very forthcoming when talking about his achievements. He says he’s most excited about advancements in Vietnamese medicine and the advantages of working at a modern hospital like FV, as those factors offer more and more hope to patients with heart conditions.
Talking about Vietnam’s therapeutic capacity in cardiology, Dr Tuan affirmed:
“Ninety per cent of what the world’s best healthcare centres can do in the field of cardiology, we can do in Vietnam, especially at FV. Due to our advanced equipment and technology, there are many areas where we still exceed world standards, such as in the “golden hour” of treating cardiovascular patients.
“I hope that with the continued advancement of medicine and the increase of people’s awareness, the death toll from cardiovascular disease will soon be much less scary than it is now.”
Sharing his plans, Dr Tuan said: “At FV, many of the most advanced techniques are being applied, for example, the endovascular interventions for structural heart diseases. Instead of open surgery, FV uses endoscopic techniques, which minimises risks,” he emphasises.
Dr Tuan says that this technique has only been available in a handful of large hospitals for a few years now, and he is happy to be implementing it at FV to create better outcomes for patients.
Dr Ho Minh Tuan graduated from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy and holds a Master of Internal Medicine. He also received advanced training in interventional cardiology at Jantung Negara Institute, Malaysia, and Saiseikai Hospital Yokohama, Japan. Dr Tuan’s previous roles include senior doctor at the Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City, and Head of the Imaging Department at Tam Duc Heart Hospital. In 2021, Dr Tuan assumed a new position at FV Hospital as Head of the Cardiology.
To make an appointment with Dr. Ho Minh Tuan, please contact:
Cardiology Department, FV Hospital: No. 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, HCMC
Hotline: (028) 5411 3467 – 028 5411 3333