Scott Kesteven

Scott's story: Heart attack

"I diagnosed my own heart attack at the breakfast table"

One of our very own scientists, father of two, Scott Kesteven diagnosed his own heart attack while sitting with his family at the kitchen table.

He woke up with nausea and a pain that felt like a "hot tennis ball" in his chest. He knew what it meant. It’s his job to know - he’s an expert in heart function right here at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Fully aware that it “comes down to minutes and seconds” in these situations, Scott had his wife, Susan, immediately drive him to hospital.

But even despite his swift response, as Scott was being prepped for surgery, he went into cardiac arrest. Thankfully doctors brought his heart back to life and inserted a stent.

“When my heart stopped pumping,” said Scott, “There were no bright lights, doors or angels. I felt incredibly euphoric. The pain and extreme nausea I was suffering disappeared.”

“Moments later they hit me with the defibrillator and all the agony and nausea came flooding back.”

“I went from being blissfully unconscious and euphoric to extremely agitated and in pain.”

Scott with his family

“But I was alive.”

Scott was the victim of a silent killer – atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”– a creeping build-up of plaque in the key arteries going into the heart. Until the day of his heart attack, Scott didn't experience any notable symptoms. And like Scott, 1 in 4 people presenting with heart attacks have no apparent risk factors.

The husband and father of two was 55 years old, in tip-top shape, super fit, a non smoker, and prior to this he cycled around 250km a week to and from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Despite living such a healthy lifestyle and having no family history of heart disease, the terrifying reality is Scott could have easily died. A speedy response and best clinical practice saved his life.

Scott is now urging other Australians to go and get their heart health checked, taking along with the Heart Health Assessment Guide to their doctors.

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is also conducting urgent research into atherosclerosis. Find out about our latest breakthrough here.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Heart