The Heart Foundation’s Heart Week (1-7 May) shines a spotlight on the heart health of Australians.
In 2013, cardiovascular disease was responsible for more than 40,000 deaths in Australia, yet heart health is something many people don’t think about until there is a problem.
Marty Livingston, an Assistant Director at the Department of Human Services, is someone who now knows a thing or two about heart health, after coming far too close to becoming one of the statistics.
“In 2012, at the age of 46, I was required to have quadruple bypass surgery (CABG),” he explains.
“Up until then, I actually lived a reasonably healthy lifestyle and was relatively fit.
“But about a month or two prior to the operation, I started getting what seemed like very mild indigestion symptoms.”
Already aware he was at a higher risk of heart disease, Marty decided to do some research.
“I already knew I had elevated cholesterol levels as well as a family history of heart disease, so I decided to jump on the Heart Foundation’s website to get more information,” he said.
“It became very clear after reading the information that I ‘triggered’ a number of risk factors, so I sought further medical advice. Advice that would save my life.
“I underwent some tests and the results were a major shock. It was revealed that I had 90% blockage in one artery and 60% blockage in 2 others.
“The cardiologist was of the opinion I was only 6 months away from a major heart attack.”
Marty couldn’t believe what was happening and like many, thought this would never happen to him.
“Up until the diagnosis, I thought I was bulletproof,” he said. “It’s just something you can’t imagine happening to you, especially when you have a young family to take care of.
“But thank goodness I sought advice when I did. Just two weeks later I was in hospital undergoing lifesaving, open heart surgery.”
Not long after the surgery, Marty bounced back into life with renewed enthusiasm.
“A week after surgery I was out of hospital with a completely new outlook,” he enthused.
“I now have a renewed appreciation for family, for work, and for simply living a healthy lifestyle.”
And live a healthy lifestyle Marty does!
“To help stay healthy, I ride 60kms to work and back each day,” he said.
“In the last three years, I’ve cycled over 30,000kms, which has helped me stay fit and retain a healthy heart.
“But it’s about more than that. It’s a great way to start the day with a fresh and healthy mind.”
Cycling has also had the added benefit of taking Marty on journeys he might never have had the opportunity to experience otherwise.
“In 2017, I will be cycling 1500km from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland, followed by the five mountain stages of the Tour de France,” he said.
“Not a bad effort for someone who could have died of heart failure a few years earlier.
”I also recently celebrated 30 years of service in the department, which is an achievement I’m really proud of. I may not have reached this milestone if not for the great work being done by the Heart Foundation.
“I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been, and looking forward to a long and healthy life.”
- Read more about the Heart Foundation’s Heart Week