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Dr Tan Ko Beng Julian

"I believe that it is crucial for a patient to have ownership of their health. We, as doctors, can only do so much in providing treatment and advice. If you truly want good health, then you should lead a healthy lifestyle and exercise, exercise, exercise!"
Dr Julian Tan is a cardiologist practising at Parkway East Hospital. He has special interest in performing complex percutaneous coronary intervention, which is a non-surgical procedure that uses a thin tube and stent to open narrowed blood vessels.
  • Specialty:

    • Cardiology
  • Qualifications

    • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, National University of Singapore
    • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, UK
    • Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine), National University of Singapore
    • Member of the Royal College of Physicians, UK
    • Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore (Cardiology)
  • Languages Spoken

    • Cantonese
    • English
    • Hokkien
    • Indonesian
    • Malay
    • Mandarin

Getting to Know Dr Tan Ko Beng Julian

Getting to Know Dr Tan Ko Beng Julian

Q: What led you to become a doctor, and in particular, a cardiologist?

My decision to enter a career in medicine was influenced by seeing my paediatrician father tend to sick children at odd hours of the night. 

Cardiology has always been my favorite specialty, as the heart is not only the most important organ of the body (without it working well, all other organs won’t either), but it is such a fascinating piece of (divine) engineering.

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Q: What kind of conditions do you treat, or specialise in treating?

I am like a ‘plumber’, or an interventional cardiologist. That means I unclog blocked pipes – blocked heart arteries in this case – using minimally invasive catheter-based methods (no need for open heart operations).

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Q: Do you perform any kind of special treatments? If so, please share a little here.

I have a keen interest in ‘unclogging’ completely blocked heart arteries in a condition known as chronic total occlusion. 

It used to be that chronic total occlusions (CTO), ie. completely blocked arteries, could only be treated using open heart bypass surgery. But with the advent of new percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) technology and the training of CTO operators like myself, these CTOs can now be treated using non-surgical means.

Persistence and patience is key, as some CTO interventions can take more than 3 hours to perform successfully. The longest time I spent on a CTO case was 7 hours!

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Q: What are some of the most interesting or fulfilling parts of your job?

In my line of work as an interventional cardiologist, I deal with emergency, often after-hours, coronary angioplasty for ST-elevation myocardial infarctions (STEMI), commonly known as heart attacks. This is literally a life-saving procedure that has to be done in the quickest time.

The saddest part of my job for me is the thought of not being able to save a person from death from STEMI, especially if the person is in their prime and with young children. The most fulfilling part of my job is giving such a patient a new lease of life with a successful coronary intervention.

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Q: Could you share with us your philosophy in treating patients?

I believe that it is crucial for a patient to have ownership of their health. We, as doctors, can only do so much in providing treatment and advice. If you truly want good health, then you should lead a healthy lifestyle and exercise, exercise, exercise!

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