It hit Chris out of the blue. It could hit you too.

You may never know you have atherosclerosis – until it’s too late.

Chris Hewgill was a fit and healthy surfer, with no apparent symptoms.

On the day he turned 60, Chris and a mate had driven from their home in Nambucca Heads down to the NSW Central Coast for a day of surfing.

Chris had followed the waves well down the beach away from his mate, when he was suddenly thrown from his board, which came down and hit him on the head and shoulder.

He woke up underwater. He’d been knocked out.

Then a pain in his chest hit him like a freight train.

He thought he was dying – and he was. He was having a heart attack.

He was determined to get to shore.

Chris was tossed around by the waves as he struggled to the beach, blacking out frequently.

It took 15 long minutes for him to get there.

Then he literally crawled up the beach towards the Surf Lifesavers. He was whisked off to have a stent put in his heart.

But the next day in hospital, he watched with horror as the ‘beep, beep, beep’ of his heart monitor turned to one continuous ‘beeeeeeeeep’, and the regular peaks and troughs on his monitor flatlined.

The world became silent, and the last thing he remembers is thinking, “This is it”.

Atherosclerosis is a build-up of fatty deposits, cholesterol and plaque on the inside of the arteries. It can be the result of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Or it can just be the luck of your genes.

The point is, it can happen to just about anyone.

Will you join us to find a way to diagnose it – before it’s too late for someone you love?

Professor Roland Stocker and his team at the Victor Chang Institute are investigating how unstable plaques can be detected and treated. These types of plaques are prone to rupture, and this can cause a sudden heart attack. 

Professor Stocker’s laboratory has identified a way to stabilise this dangerous type of plaque and now wishes to develop a technique to detect risks of atherosclerosis.

(Currently there are no routine procedures available to determine which plaques are unstable and, therefore, likely to cause a heart attack.)

Chris Hewgill thought he was fit and well. He had no symptoms of pending heart trouble.

He made it through, but not without two years of intensive recovery and a complete lifestyle change.

Many are not so lucky.

Please give today to help develop ways to detect and treat heart diseases like ‘the silent killer’ atherosclerosis.

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