HEART scientist Scott Kesteven diagnosed his own heart attack while sitting at the breakfast table.
He was on the operating table by the time he suffered cardiac arrest — and his life was saved by a colleague.
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute researcher Mr Kesteven is an expert in echocardiography and measuring heart function and knew what the feelings of “a burning tennis ball” in his chest and bruising on his left arm meant.
“The classic symptom of a heart attack,” he said.
Within minutes wife Susan was driving the father-of-two, 55, to Hornbsy Hospital where he was given clot-busting drugs and rushed by ambulance to Royal North Shore Hospital.
There his institute colleague Professor Gemma Figtree was on hand to re-start his heart and insert a hi-tech stent into a blocked coronary artery.
Mr Kesteven’s quick action in seeking help meant Prof Figtree was waiting in reception to reassure Susan her husband was OK.
Two weeks later, Mr Kesteven has gone public to raise awareness of the need to recognise heart attack symptoms.
“I can’t thank (Prof Figtree) and the team enough for saving my life,” he said.
“It is all down to the speed of action at Hornsby and RNS hospitals, it comes down to minutes and seconds in situations like this.”
Coronary heart disease claims the life of one Australian every 26 minutes, but up to one quarter of victims have no obvious risk factors.
“We still don’t understand the complete biology of our biggest killer,” Prof Figtree said.
While smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are major contributors to coronary disease and heart attack, Mr Kesteven was a fit and seemingly healthy man.
Until a fortnight ago he cycled 250km a week to and from the Victor Chang Institute. Now he takes daily medications, including beta-blockers and statins.
“Heart attacks can happen in anyone — even the fit without risk factors,” Prof Figtree said.
“Don’t ignore symptoms of chest pain.”
Partly funded by Heart Research Australia, Prof Figtree’s team operates a world-leading 24-hour surgery service to open blocked arteries in heart attack patients.
Their work became more poignant when their research collaborator Mr Kesteven was admitted.
Mr Kesteven took just one week of sick leave and was now feeling “100 per cent” — even considering getting back on his bike this weekend.
And his research has taken on new meaning.
Lucky the man new the signs and symptoms. It is very important that you always consider pains in the chest as a scenario that is linked to a heart attack. Please make sure you can help one of your family or friends in the case of an emergency by booking in to a first aid course with Canberra First Aid. We have courses running every week and we offer the cheapest first aid course rate in Canberra with gifts included. Book in now.