Real life

Scott's Story

Scott Kesteven, 55, 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 at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. But despite going immediately to hospital knowing it was a heart attack, Scott still suffered a sudden cardiac arrest on the operating table.

Scott was the victim of a silent killer – atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”– a creeping build-up of plaque in one or more of the key arteries going into the heart. 1 in 4 people presenting with heart attacks have no apparent risk factors and as a super fit athlete who rides more than 250 km a week, Scott definitely fell into this mysterious category.

“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.”

“But I was alive.”

Heart disease kills more Australians every year than any other disease, with heart attacks alone claiming the lives of 8,600 Australians every year.  

Thankfully, Scott survived to go home to his wife Susan and daughters Ruby, 16, and Olivia, 18, who are both very relieved to have their father back.

‘I thank my lucky stars every day that Dad survived. I know others aren’t so fortunate, so our family is feeling really blessed,’ Ruby said.

After just a week of recovering, Scott has returned to work explaining that his research has taken on a whole new meaning now and he feels even more driven than before to unlock the mysteries of heart disease.

Learn more about atherosclerosis 

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