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.

Click here to make a generous donation today to help find answers to deadly heart diseases. 

Why was I so sure I was having a heart attack? Because it’s my job to know. I research how the heart regulates itself and I’m an expert in echocardiography.Scott Kesteven scientist

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.

Victor ChangThat’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.

Dr Chang had a vision of saving lives through heart research. Will you help realise that vision by making a gift today?

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.

Make a donation today to help find answers to deadly heart diseases.

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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Privacy Policy

1. Our privacy commitment

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute respects your privacy.

We collect, store and use your personal information to help us fight heart disease. This Privacy Policy explains how we handle the personal information we collect relating to our fundraising activities – this includes marketing, events, our website, and health promotion services such as the Health Check Booth.

2. What types of personal information we collect

Personal information means information that identifies you or that could reasonably be used to identify you. The types of personal information we collect may include your name, gender, contact information, email address, credit/debit card information and if you consent to take part in our activities and events, health promotion services or to receive marketing materials from us.

3. Health information and other sensitive information

We do not collect health information or other types of sensitive information as part of our general fundraising activities or through our general web-site.

4. Using unsolicited information

Unsolicited information is information that is given to us that we haven’t asked for, from you or anyone else. If we receive this type of information, we will check whether this information is reasonably necessary for what we do. If it is, we’ll handle this information in the same way we do all personal information under privacy laws. If we don’t need it we’ll destroy or de-identify it.

5. How we collect your personal information

Where possible, we will collect your personal information directly from you. This may be in person (e.g. when you attend an event), on the telephone, or on-line.

We only collect information by lawful and fair means.

We may also obtain personal information from third parties or publicly available sources. In this case, we will take reasonable steps to contact you and ensure that you are aware of the circumstances surrounding the collection and purposes for which we collected your personal information.

6. Why we collect your personal information

We may collect your personal information for a number of purposes, including:

  • Marketing: to communicate with you about donations, our activities and fundraising events.
  • Health promotion: to provide you with services and information related to cardiovascular disease and its risk factors and research-related events and seminars.
  • Other activities: communicating with you to verify your identity, to improve and evaluate our programs and services, and to comply with relevant laws.

7. What happens if you don’t provide your information?

If you do not provide some or all of the personal information requested, we may not be able to offer you services, process your donations, or provide you with information about our events and activities.

8. Using a pseudonym or engaging with us anonymously

Anonymous donations may be made to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute at any time by contacting us directly. Please note that we are unable to provide anonymous donors with receipts.

If you want to make a general enquiry or browse our web-site you can do so anonymously.

9. Website usage information and cookies

We do not use ‘cookies’ or any other methods to record information that is personally identifiable such as a visitor’s contact details, IP address, or domain name. We do use ‘cookies’ to anonymously track visits to our web pages and the documents that are downloaded in order to compile statistical information. This provides us with information about which pages are popular. If you prefer for ‘cookies’ not to be used, you can set your browser to disable them.

10. When we disclose your personal information

We may need to disclose your personal information to our agents in order to carry out our fundraising activities. This may include agencies who perform services on our behalf, such as mailing houses, printers, information technology services providers, archiving services, database services and telemarketing agencies. These services will always be provided under strict confidentiality agreements.

In rare cases, we may be required by law to disclose your information to a government or law enforcement agency (for example to investigate an allegation of credit card fraud).

11. Security of our information

We take all reasonable steps to protect the personal information we hold from misuse, interference and loss, and from unauthorised access. Electronic information is stored on secure servers that are protected in controlled facilities.

We do not use data hosting facilities or third party service providers that store information overseas.

Hard copy information is generally stored in our offices, which are secured to prevent entry by unauthorised people. Any personal information not actively being used is archived, usually for 7 years, with a third party provider of secure archiving services. Where personal information is stored with a third party, we have strict agreements in place that require those third parties to maintain the security of the information.

12. Security of direct debit and credit card information

We use a third-party financial institution to process our credit card transactions. It receives the credit card number and other personal information of our donors only to verify credit card numbers and to process credit card transactions in a secure environment. Where your financial information is stored on our servers, access to this information is restricted to our authorised staff only.

13. Accessing or changing your personal information

We take reasonable steps to make sure that the information we collect and use is accurate, up-to-date and complete. You may contact our Fund Development Officer at any time if you wish to:

  • change or correct your personal information (for example address or telephone number)
  • cancel some or all of the communications that we provide (we include opt-out mechanisms on the majority of our communications)
  • request access to the information that we hold about you
  • request further information about our privacy policy.

14. Questions and complaints

If you have any questions, concerns or complaints about the way in which we have handled your personal information, please contact our Fund Development Officer.

Once we receive a complaint, we will respond to you as soon as possible and will let you know if we need any further information from you. We will notify you of our decision within 30 days, however, if we are unable to do so, we will let you know the reason for the delay and the expected timeframe for resolving the complaint.

You may also lodge a complaint with the Office of Australian Information Commissioner, for more information visit www.oaic.gov.au.

15. How to contact the Fund Development Officer




Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
PO Box 699
Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Telephone 1300 842 867

For a copy of our full privacy policy, please click here.

Updated: March 2014