Shane Warne’s former team-mate Darren Lehmann says Australian men should take the champion spinner’s shock death as a wake-up call and get a heart check-up.
Warne, who had a history of smoking, unhealthy eating and yo-yo dieting, died from a heart attack in Thailand on March 4 at age 52 while on a health kick.
Lehmann, who survived a heart attack on his 50th birthday two years ago, said Warne’s tragic death could save lives if it motivates Australian men to get their hearts checked.
Shane Warne’s former team-mate Darren Lehmann (right) says Australian men should take the champion spinner’s shock death as a wake-up call and get a heart check-up
Cricket Australia doctor Dr. Peter Brukner said Warne’s heart attack was hastened by a combination of a longstanding smoking habit, poor diet and other lifestyle factors
Heart attacks kill approximately 8,000 Australians each year, which is 21 on average every day.
Men are far more likely to suffer heart attacks than women.
Lehmann said Aussie men can be ‘hopeless’ at visiting the doctor, but he urged them ‘don’t delay’ a heart check-up, especially if they are feeling ‘a bit off’.
‘I think [Shane’s] family would be wanting people to get themselves checked too. They wouldn’t want others to suffer a loss like they have,’ Lehmann told the Herald Sun.
Coronary heart disease, which can lead to fatal heart attacks, is by far the leading cause of death for Australian men. For women it’s dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.
Darren Lehmann was notoriously uninterested in fitness during his playing career and smoked for 30 years before his heart attack in 2020 saw him alter his lifestyle
Lehmann (third from right) needed a triple bypass in 2020 after surviving a heart attack. He’s since quit smoking and begun to exercise. Last year in October he completed an ultramarathon
Cricket Australia doctor Dr. Peter Brukner said Warne’s heart attack was hastened by a combination of a longstanding smoking habit, poor diet and other lifestyle factors.
‘Warney, if he had heart disease, which sounds like he did, you know, that didn’t happen overnight in Thailand. It’s been happening for 20, 30 years from smoking, poor diet, etc,’ Mr Brukner told Triple M.
Lehmann, 52, underwent triple-bypass surgery following a series of chest pains at 4.30am in a Gold Coast Hotel room on his 50th birthday in February 2020.
‘I thought to myself perhaps I’ll have a cig to make myself feel better, but I couldn’t even do that,’ Lehmann said.
From that moment on, the former Australian coach, who was well-known for disregarding physical fitness and modern dietary regimes, dramatically altered his lifestyle.
Before his heart scare, Lehmann had smoked 20 to 25 cigarettes a day for 30 years.
As he left hospital, Lehmann pledged to himself as well as a team of doctors he needed to ‘clear his addictions.’
Cigarettes were replaced by fitness, and for the first time in his life – despite being a former professional athlete – he started exercising properly.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, coronary heart disease is the biggest killer of men in Australia
Warne (left) and Lehmann (background) were friends and team-mates in the Australian one day and Test cricket teams
He gradually increased his fitness workload, and these days he walks for at least 30 minutes daily near his Brisbane home.
Last October he completed an ultramarathon and also became an ambassador for the Australian Heart Foundation.
While Victorian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching also died of a heart attack at 52 on Thursday – at the same age was Warne – it is not known if coronary heart disease was a factor.
It is understood Ms Kitching had been taking medication for thyroid issues, which may have contributed to existing heart problems.
Warne had several typical risk factors for heart attacks, according to Professor Jason Kovacic, director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
‘So heart attacks are normally caused by a process, that build-up of fatty material in the arteries that causes the heart attack by blocking the artery,’ Professor Kovacic told ABC radio.
‘Shane Warne, we know he was a smoker, we know his diet wasn’t great and he tended to seesaw between healthy eating and then not eating so well.’
Warne was also statistically at increased risk of a heart attack because he contracted Covid-19.
Coronary heart disease is responsible for about 150,000 hospitalisations each year in Australia and up to 60,000 hospitalisations are due to heart attacks.