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Graeme’s Triathlon To Health

Graeme Sutton, a former Ironman athlete representing Australia twice in Triathlons was a fit and healthy 50-year-old, a picture of good health and wellbeing.

Graeme Sutton Triathlon To Health

Graeme Sutton, a former Ironman athlete representing Australia twice in Triathlons was a fit and healthy 50-year-old, a picture of good health and wellbeing.

“I was the winner in my age group in the Australian Half Ironman series in 2008/2010 and was always a fairly active athlete for most of my adult life,” he said.

After a severe ankle injury and a few health issues that saw him not being able to run or even walk for long periods of time, Graeme began to develop constant fever and chill cycles. He visited his GP after severe pain in his left calf and was diagnosed with ‘unprovoked’ Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

“The doctor explained that fevers are a common symptom of DVT and because I also have Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease of the bowels, the DVT was dismissed as a symptom of this,” Graeme said.

A few weeks later, Graeme was rushed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“It was my birthday and I was carted to Royal Melbourne Hospital in an ambulance. They found a moderate murmur and equated the two and put me in the infectious disease ward. When the fever cycle started again they put me on IV antibiotics and started taking blood cultures,” Graeme explained.

“I was in the ID ward for two days where they discovered a 2.5 x1cm streptococcus mitis ‘vegetation’ flapping on my aortic valve and that the valve had basically been destroyed.”

Eight days later Graeme required emergency open heart surgery. He ended up with a porcine root and aortic replacement. The doctors also discovered that he had a Bicuspid Aortic Valve, a congenital condition of the aortic valve, and that the infection had perforated the valve. However, by the time they operated the infection was dead.

Unfortunately for Graeme, if detected early, an early course of IV antibiotics would have sufficed and he could have avoided surgery.

“It is now 11 months since my operation and I’m fairly sure that the limiting factor is the rebuilding of the muscles that have shrunk from the surgery rather than my heart,” he said.

“I’m still fatiguing easily but things are improving slowly. Eight months following surgery I could crouch down and at around 10 months I could do a standing jump. I’m back into triathlon training but not satisfied that I’m back to racing fitness yet.”

Why do we need your help? To ensure people like Graeme are diagnosed correctly from the beginning ensuring they have the best treatment and care available to them. Thanks for supporting critical research into heart disease; we couldn’t do it without you!

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