There was a serious warning after the sudden death of Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching at the age of 52, less than a week after cricketing legend Shane Warne.
The shock death of Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching has prompted a warning about heart disease and a type of heart attack that can occur in healthy young women, often without warning.
Senator Kitching died suddenly of a suspected heart attack on Thursday, less than a week after cricketing legend Shane Wane reportedly died for the same reason.
Although less than 5% of heart disease occurs in people under 55 in Australia, both were only 52 years old.
The executive director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Jason Kovacic, said that while the specific factors in Senator Kitching’s case were not publicly known, she was the typical demographic for a condition called spontaneous dissection. coronary artery (SCAD).
“SCAD is a disease that affects women 10 times more often than men,” he said.
“It usually occurs in middle-aged women and they tend to have few or no traditional cardiovascular risk factors – so they usually don’t smoke, they don’t have diabetes, they aren’t overweight, and they don’t have no cholesterol problems.”
He said SCAD was a partly genetic disease much like a tear in blood vessels.
The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has worked with groups around the world to identify several genes associated with it.
A large international study is currently underway to try to obtain even more answers.
Professor Kovacic said there are several potential triggers for SCAD, including extreme physical activity, trauma (such as car accidents) and even childbirth and the postpartum period.
Significantly, Professor Kovacic said that stress was also linked to both SCAD and heart attacks in general.
It comes after Bill Shorten told ABC Radio through tears on Friday that Senator Kitching had been under “tremendous stress” due to “behind-the-scenes political machinations.”
“We know that after any catastrophic event, like earthquakes or tsunamis, there is a peak in heart attacks about a week after that,” Professor Kovacic said.
He said stress causes surges of adrenaline and hormones, causing heart rate to increase as well as other changes, increasing stimulation which could then trigger a heart attack.
Professor Kovacic said smoking, Warne’s unhealthy ‘swing’ diet and having caught Covid-19 all increased his risk of heart disease.
“Unfortunately we know that Shane Warne had several risk factors – he was a smoker, he had a rather questionable diet which would oscillate between fatty foods and emergency diets and he had also had Covid for the past year” , did he declare.
“Covid roughly doubles your risk of having a heart attack within 12 months.”
Professor Kovacic said a large US scientific study found the risk of heart disease increased gradually with the severity of Covid disease – noting that Warne was put on a ventilator after being infected.
He criticized any comments suggesting the vaccination led to Warne’s heart attack.
“Vaccination greatly reduces your risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid, so we believe it will protect against Covid-related heart disease,” he said.
Professor Kovacic said that although vaccination has been linked to rare cases of myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – there were no reports that it led to heart attacks.
He said that by the age of 75, one in four Australians will have heart disease and it was the leading cause of death – so it was important people were watching for common causes.
“It’s really important that people don’t smoke, get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and get diabetes screened and managed,” he said.