Super fit Australian tennis champion Todd Woodbridge has encouraged people to get health checks after suffering a heart attack last week.
The 51-year-old commentator, who won 16 Grand Slam doubles titles with doubles partner Mark Woodforde, has described the incident as a “wake-up call” of the hidden dangers for even the fittest middle-aged.
At 51, Woodbridge is a year younger than Shane Warne when he had his fatal seizure, while a host of other Australian athletes of the same age have suffered heart attacks.
“It was last Thursday, I was trying to stick to my routine after traveling to the US Open and London and I was just working out and had chest pains and all the symptoms if you look it up on google – full of sweat and me felt terrible,” Woodbridge told the Herald.
“I had a small heart attack, which is considered a mild heart attack, which is a bit of a shock to me.
“I think (I) lead a pretty good, healthy lifestyle – I stay active, I eat well, I do the right things, I like doing it.
“It was a wake up call for me to make sure I’m taking care of myself. If it can happen to me, it shows it can happen to anyone.’
The event is the latest in a worrying spate of heart attacks that have struck top Australian athletes in their early 50s.
Cricket icon Shane Warne was 52 when he was found unresponsive after suffering a heart attack at his luxury villa in Thailand.
Just days later, former AFL star Dean Wallis, 52, suffered a massive heart attack but survived the scare after being rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery.
Washington cricketer Ryan Campbell, 50, is also lucky to be alive after he was given a 7 percent chance of survival following a cardiac arrest in April.
In May, West Coast Eagles Premiership player Peter Matera, 53, suffered a heart attack while chopping wood on his property in Victoria. The AFL star was rushed to hospital where doctors placed two stents in his heart.
Former Australian cricket coach Darren Lehman also survived a heart attack in the early hours of his 50th birthday – and was fortunately saved by triple bypass surgery.
Woodbridge, who retired from tennis in 2005, says he’s learned that family history has just as much impact on heart attack susceptibility as personal health.
“I’ve reached the age now where I need to make sure I get tested regularly and go to the doctors,” he said.
“I would urge anyone out there who has been through the last few years (of lockdowns) where we’ve been going, no I’m fine, I haven’t been to doctors, haven’t had any checks to make sure you’re getting it out there and do it.
“I was lucky enough to have all the tests done and I’m fine. With good monitoring and a bit of mild medication, I’m fine.
“But what I learned was how important hereditary genes are to your health and I’m aware that both my mum and dad had some issues with needing some stents and my dad had very high cholesterol . If I take care of it, I have the ability to be good in the future. But if you don’t take care of it, you risk yourself.
“My advice is don’t delay what you’re planning to do. Because I was planning on taking my next tests, we all lead busy lives and it’s going to be next month and then it’s going to be six months and you still haven’t done it and I was a little bit guilty.
“The best part is that I’m ready to go again. I have to take it easy, I can’t do anything physically, but I can still get my general work done.