Sydney dad who collapsed moments after playing with kids at home sends powerful message

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A Sydney dad is urging Australians to get on top of their heart health after he suddenly collapsed and went into cardiac arrest moments after playing with his kids.

After his own weekend game of soccer, Beau Curtis was kicking a ball around in the backyard with his sons when he began to feel unwell.

See more from Beau in the video above

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Moments later, the 44-year-old collapsed on the kitchen floor and went into cardiac arrest.

His wife – who had been just about to go out shopping – performed CPR on him for eight minutes, undoubtedly saving his life, before paramedics arrived and transported him to hospital.

“I woke up a day or two later in ICU with my wife next to me and I just said ,’What happened?’,’’ he told 7NEWS.com.au of the events in 2018.

Beau and his family. Credit: Supplied

To his shock, Beau was told he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a condition where the heart muscle is thicker than usual, making it harder to pump blood.

While there was nothing Beau could have done to stop the cardiac arrest he was told, to reduce his risk of another, he would have to give up competitive sport.

“I live vicariously through my kids now,” he said.

Silent disease

Beau never had any indication nor symptoms he had a heart issue.

He was relatively fit, ate well and took care of himself.

He now lives with an implanted cardiac defibrillator that shocks his heart back into rhythm if it goes into arrhythmia.

Since the cardiac arrest, Beau hasn’t had to alter his lifestyle much – other than missing his sport – but his outlook on life has changed.

He wants others to be aware of the condition of their heart and be on top of their health.

“Get tested as often as you can and be aware of your health and do the right things,” he said.

“Just because you are healthy today doesn’t mean that something’s not going wrong that you don’t know about.”

Heart health in Australia

In Australia, heart disease is a significant problem, claiming 19 lives a day, according to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI).

Heart disease is the leading cause of hospitalisations and death in Australia and affects more women than men.

“Our heart health is really important. It’s recommended that we get a heart health test every year and check your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol,” VCCRI heart health manager Anastasia Dounas said.

“Just so you are aware if you are at risk of heart disease because it’s such a major killer of Australians.”

Dounas said there are several ways Australians can actively reduce their risk of heart disease.

VCCRI heart health checks are touring NSW and Victoria. Credit: Supplied

“It’s all things that we know – maintaining a healthy weight and a lifestyle, keeping active, following a healthy diet, typically a Mediterranean diet,” she said.

Other steps people could take include:

  • Swapping out white carbs – bread, rice and pasta – for brown or wholemeal
  • Replacing soft drinks, energy drinks and juices with lots of water
  • Eliminating sweets and greasy food
  • Increasing consumption of foods containing good fat – avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds
  • Eating five servings of vegetables every day
  • Reducing consumption of saturated fat and trans fat
  • Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes, five times a week
  • Reducing alcohol intake – it’s recommended no more than 12 standard drinks are consumed in a week. In one day, no more than four standard drinks should be consumed
  • Quit smoking

“What’s really important is knowing your family history,” Dounas added.

“If there is any history on either side of your family, up until your grandparents, of any heart disease, heart attacks, cardiac arrest, strokes.

“Of course, stress is a big part of it. So if you’re leading a stressful life, focus on meditation and yoga.”

Since the start of this year, there have been five sudden cardiac arrest incidents on sports fields or an hour post-play, three of which have resulted in death, according to charity Heartbeat of Football.

The VCCRI’s Heart Health Tour – funded by the IMB Bank Community Foundation – offers free seven-minute checks to give people an understanding of their heart health and what lifestyle changes they can make to prevent heart issues.

About 30 per cent of people who have undertaken a free heart health check have been referred to their GP with at least one risk factor.

Over the next few weeks, the initiative is moving around New South Wales and Victoria, paying particular attention to community sport.

The Heart Health Tour is funded by IMB Bank Community Foundation. Not-for-profit groups in need of funding can apply here.

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