BRAD WARREN is lucky to be alive after surviving a terrifying medical ordeal two-and-a-half weeks ago.
The White Horse Hotel co-owner felt a pain in his chest before he went to bed at about 2am. He thought it might have been indigestion.
Then Mr Warren's discomfort intensified.
"We were very lucky. The ambulance was here within three or four minutes of calling," Mr Warren said as he stood in the hotel's beer garden on Thursday.
"I was down in the emergency department in less than 10 minutes."
Mr Warren cannot remember much of what happened after that. He has been told he had no pulse for 20 minutes and was unconscious for much of the following day.
There is never a good time for someone to have a massive heart attack. That said, at least Mr Warren had his within the last 12 months.
Over that period, Bendigo Health has begun running its cardiac cath lab every hour of the weekend.
The service expansion may very well have saved Mr Warren's life, cardiology director Voltaire Nadurata said.
Under the new system, weekend shift doctors leave their homes as soon as paramedics flag a case, even in the middle of the night, he said.
"The plan is to open up the heart within an hour," Dr Nadurata said.
People in the Bendigo region have been suffering high levels of cardiac arrests for as long as Dr Nadurata has been working for Bendigo Health.
In the last year the service has dealt with more patents than some hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne.
That is partly because of Bendigo's location in the heart of Victoria, Dr Nadurata
"Last night, at 5.30 in the morning I was looking after someone who was having a heart attack from Maldon ... as we were finishing there was another patient being flown by helicopter to us from Swan Hill."
Mr Warren is still recovering but has come a long way since waking up to find himself full of tubes on a hospital bed.
"I have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I am still here," he said.
It is a second chance at life for the publican aged in his 40s and he has implored others to act before the worst happens.
"Maybe we are people who have gone through life as a smoker or a drinker. Maybe we've been too scared to go to a doctor and find out what damage we've done," Mr Warren said.
"This [heart attack] brought it all to the surface for me. I had to confront everything."
In retrospect, there had been warning signs in the lead up to the heart attack that Mr Warren had brushed under the table, including the emergence of type two diabetes, sore feet and blurred vision.
Mr Warren says he is lucky to have found out he is still in "relatively good nick" after everything he has gone through.
"If I do the right things - diet and exercise - then the efforts the team put in to keep me alive won't go to waste."
Mr Warren had another piece of advice for anyone who feels something strange happening in their chest.
"Don't be brave and try to sleep it off," he said."
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