Con Dionyssopoulos, 53, exercised regularly most of his life, in fact he went to the gym a lot and he did not and does not drink or smoke. He would occasionally overindulge in good food at special functions.
When he noticed that his brother Ilias was turning bright red when they went on a jog together about three years ago, he decided that they should both do a heart stress test and what came up shocked him.
“Our dad had heart issues and mum had high blood pressure so we thought it best to do the test,” he said.
The test showed that Ilias was fine but that he had a major problem – two of his arteries were completely blocked and a third artery was 70 percent blocked.
“I had beeng going to the doctors and carrying out blood pressure test for the past 20 years. I asked my cardiologist (Associate Professor Arthur Nasis) how come I had not felt anything, he said that my heart had somehow found a way to cope,” said Mr Dionyssopoulos.
The blockage was too severe for stents to be used to keep the arteries open. Mr Dionyssopoulos underwent a triple heart bypass with arteries being sourced from his chest rather than his arms and legs.
“The lucky thing is that I don’t have scars on my arms and legs,” he said.
“Had I not done the test, I would have carried on and I could well have been dead by now,” Mr Dionyssopoulos said.
“Never smoke and if you do, you really should quit. Smoking the blood stickier making the arteries more prone to blockages,” he advised. “The other I information found amazing was that both my cardiac doctor’s and my dentist advised me, independent of each other, about maintaining good dental hygiene – bad dental hygiene leads to heart disease.”
As for his brother, Ilias, he got the all clear on his heart. He is watching his diet and taking medication to control cholesterol and blood pressure.
There are few people better qualified to talk about “Heart Health” in Australia than Clinical Associate Professor Arthur Nasis who is with the Department of Medicine at Monash University. A consultant cardiologist and cardiac imaging specialist, Associate Professor Nasis told Neos Kosmos that there were three key issues that related to heart health and heart attacks in particular.
He said the first key point was to know the symptoms of a heart attack – the most commonly recognised symptom being the pain in the chest.
“A chest pain that feels like a squeezing sensation that lasts for 10 minutes or more is one of the key signs of a heart attack. The pain can then spread to the jaw and down the arms and it is often accompanied by feelings of nausea, sweating, vomiting and dizziness,” A/Prof Nasis said.
“Sometimes there is no chest pain that goes with a heart attack. If you think you have any of the symptoms, dial 000 and call for an ambulance. Don’t try to try to drive yourself to a hospital or get a taxi.”
“The quicker you call, the quicker you will receive the treatment to avert the damage to the heart and its muscles,” A/Prof Nasis said.