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“I have always considered myself to be fairly fit, as I have played squash for over 30 years and at a competitive level.”

It was while John was playing squash one Wednesday night, as he typically did, that everything changed.

“Everything was going well for the first five minutes, and then suddenly I stumbled and fell to the floor… well, I actually nose planted myself into it,” John recalls.

With no symptoms of anything being wrong other than the deep gash he had sustained above his eye, John drove home and then, at his wife’s urging, to the hospital to get the gash checked out. There, he was advised by a nurse that he looked fine – if he didn’t want to wait for a doctor, he could head home.

But John’s wife insisted they should stay and see a doctor. And luckily, they did.

When the doctors finally got to John, they were concerned as to why someone so fit would just suddenly collapse. He was admitted for further testing, and an angiogram uncovered a blockage in his main artery.

John needed immediate open heart surgery.

I was shocked to the core, as I nev­er expect­ed such an outcome.”

John’s surgeon said he had survived a ‘Catastrophic Heart Failure’. “He said he didn’t normally see these, as 99 per cent of these people die immediately,” John continues.

The shock of hit­ting my chest so hard when I fell was enough to restart my heart and allow me to car­ry on.”

Now conscious of his heart health, John recalls experiencing a similar fall two years prior and being short of breath when playing squash ever since. Although he had undergone tests at the time, he had not had an angiogram and the blockage went undetected.

After his open-heart double bypass operation, John is now in recovery mode.

“I feel like the luckiest person alive. I can only be amazed by the work of the heart specialists and surgeons and thank them greatly for giving me more time on this Earth.”

How is HRI helping?

HRI is conducting groundbreaking research from a broad range of angles to understand how atherosclerosis develops and to find innovative ways of preventing, detecting and treating the resultant cardiovascular disease.

Our Atherosclerosis and Vascular Remodelling Group aims to identify and gain insights from the genetic and molecular pathways involved in cardiovascular disease.

Importantly, our Vascular Complications Group has discovered a new class of white blood cells that protect against atherosclerosis, and they are now trying to find a way of boosting these cells in models of cardiovascular disease.

Further to this, the Thrombosis Group is investigating how these atherosclerotic fatty plaques can promote the formation of blood clots.

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