I'm Imala Alwis and I am a senior research officer at the Heart Research Institute, working in the Thrombosis group.
Heart disease has affected me personally. My dad was in his mid fifties when he had triple bypass surgery. He led a very healthy lifestyle and he was only diagnosed during a routine medical check up. While undergoing further tests, they found that he was suffering from dyslipidemia, high blood pressure and that he had about a 70% blockage in his arteries. Within a month, he had had a triple bypass.
When he was scheduled to undergo surgery, I was in my last year of my Bachelor's degree in the States. It was a tough time. I flew out as soon as I could in order to see him but it was well after the surgery when I was able to actually see him again.
My dad was quite lucky being as healthy as he was. He had none of the other risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
He didn't smoke, he was very healthy in terms of his diet, and he also exercised moderately. There were no signs really, he didn't suffer from any kind of chest pain or any kind of discomfort. We were quite lucky in that aspect.
Based on the fact that he found out about these issues from a routine medical check up, gives you an idea of exactly how important it is in to get checked regularly.
I always had an interest in cardiovascular disease after what happened to my dad. And so it made me want to investigate more and learn more. That's when I jumped at the chance to work in the Thrombosis Research Group with Professor Shaun Jackson. Once I was able to get into the field, I was able to understand a lot more and I was able to pass on some of that understanding to my parents and family.
Because heart disease runs in the family, I make it a point to see a GP at least once every six months. During that time, I'll do a routine test where I take a look at my blood pressure or my cholesterol levels and blood glucose. All of these things essentially equate into a healthy heart check and that tell me that my heart is on the right track.
I wish my situation was unique, however heart disease is the number one killer across the world. Our research has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Thanks to the advances in research, my dad is alive and well today.