The Morning Show has partnered with the Heart Foundation for this story.
Geoff Lester isn’t your typical ‘poster boy’ for cardiovascular disease.
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While refereeing a basketball game, Geoff suffered an aortic dissection – a life-threatening condition where the main vessel carrying blood from the heart tears open.
“I started getting a bit of chest discomfort and tingling in the arm, and I was a bit dizzy,” Lester said.
“I kind of sat down and thought I’d just sit this game out – but it didn’t go away.
“On the way home, I stopped at the hospital and the pain came on and hit me like a truck. It floored me.
“I couldn’t stand up. It was that excruciating.”
Geoff admits he was naive as to how bad his situation was when the medical staff told him that he had a dissection.
“When they came up to me and said I had to go to the theatre, my initial response was, ‘Sure, I’ve got some time next week, let’s book it in,’” Lester said.
“And he said, ‘No, you don’t understand. You need to go to the theatre tonight, now.”
Affecting young Australians
By the age of 35, Geoff Lester survived three open-heart surgeries and two strokes.
And according to John Kelly, National CEO of the Heart Foundation, the message around heart disease urgently needs to reach Australians below the age of 40.
“Heart disease is the biggest killer of Australians,” Kelly said.
“It kills 48 people every day.
“But heart disease doesn’t discriminate – and even a child in utero can be affected by various aspects of heart disease.
“There are 4 million Australians out there with unmanaged or untreated hypertension, and about the same number with high cholesterol.
“I think we need to point out there are other people who don’t survive, who are under 40 and suffer from cardiac death.
“We need to research that and understand it better.”
For more information about heart health and support, visit heartfoundation.org.au.
Research into these lesser-known heart conditions is so vital in saving lives. To donate, simply head to givewithheartday.com.au.