I diagnosed my own heart attack
Last September, I came back from the dead after diagnosing my own heart attack at the family breakfast table.
My name is Scott Kesteven and I’m a Senior Researcher at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
I’m 55 years old and very fit. I don’t have any family history of heart disease, I don’t drink or smoke and I ride my bike 250 km a week and race often.
Last September, I came back from the dead. I was sitting at the breakfast table with my wife and one of my two daughters.
I had a pain like a burning tennis ball in the upper part of my chest that was slowly getting worse.
My wife looked at me, frowned and said “Your skin is grey”. That’s when I knew I was having a heart attack.
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Knowing all too well that it comes down to minutes and seconds in these situations, I had my wife Susan immediately drive me to hospital.
And then it happened. As I was being prepped for surgery, I went into cardiac arrest and died. Thankfully not for long though as doctors were able to bring my heart back to life and then later inserted a stent.
I’m incredibly lucky. Working in this field I knew what my symptoms meant and was able to act fast, which ultimately is what saved my life. That and the amazing care I received at the hospital – ironically from a surgeon who I trained in the echocardiography methods for research!
Sadly though many people don’t recognise the symptoms and they get to hospital too late and die as a result. Click here to view heart attack symptoms.
Heart disease remains the single biggest killer of Australians.
That’s why research is so important. And research is why Dr Victor Chang wanted to establish a medical research institute – he knew that he could save thousands through surgery, but he could save millions through research.
You might be wondering why I had a heart attack given that I am so fit.
Good question, especially as I am not alone. What is really worrying is 1 in 4 people presenting with heart attacks have only one or no apparent risk factors.
My heart attack was caused by atherosclerosis – a build up of plaque in one of the three main blood vessels that go into the heart.
It’s called the ‘silent killer’. And there’s good reason for that. This deadly disease quietly and steadily ravages your heart undetected.
For me, plaque just built up in one of the arteries in my heart. We don’t really know why.
One day, I hope we will know.
One day, I hope no one will die of heart disease. One day, we’ll have enough answers to save people.
But until then, we need to work together to find the answers.
Click here to view our 2017 Summer Edition of The Beat newsletter and read more about my experience and the incredible work taking place at the Victor Chang Institute.
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