Former Broncos rugby league player Kerrod Walters says he is lucky to be alive after a recent heart attack.
Former Broncos rugby league player Kerrod Walters says he is lucky to be alive after a recent heart attack. Warren Lynam

Broncos great sounds warning after waking to heart attack

BRONCOS great Kerrod Walters hopes his recent heart attack can serve as a warning to others.

The former Australian, Queensland and Brisbane hooker says he is lucky to be alive after suffering a heart attack last month - an episode which took him completely by surprise.

Currumundi-based Walters has made a concerted effort to look after himself post-retirement.

He exercised regularly, did not smoke and played two charity matches on the Sunshine Coast this year - the last of which took place just seven days before his heart attack.

After watching the Souths v Cowboys game on May 10, he went to sleep, only to wake in the early hours with pain on the right side of his chest.

"I thought I had just slept awkwardly," he said.

"And then I got up to go to the toilet and then the symptoms hit me.

"I was dizzy and short of breath. I said to Desley, my partner, that something was wrong and I was not feeling well.

"That's when we decided to get straight to the hospital."

Walters said he owed a great debt to the staff at the Caloundra Hospital emergency ward and Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, in particular his cardiologist Peter Larsen.

After being rushed to Caloundra Hospital, he was given medication to unblock his arteries and avoided going into cardiac arrest.

Walters has been given the all-clear after having a coronary stent inserted.

The heart attack was caused by a build-up of plaque in an artery and Walters is on blood-thinning medication to treat it.

Since then, his brothers and fellow champion footballers Kevin and Steve have both undergone heart-stress tests.

He said the ordeal had served as a wake-up call and one he hoped others heeded.

"I'm taking it pretty easy at the moment but hopefully I can get back to where I was in terms of exercise but I think I'll call it a day in terms of playing footy.

"I played two games this year and I think the message to people is to have a stress test on your arteries.

"If I had done that, it would have picked it up straight away," he said.