As reported via his personal Instagram account, Mark Weir has been hospitalised from a suspected heart attack.
In the social media post, 45-year old Weir explains that he had been suffering chest pain (angina) for six weeks prior to the heart attack. However, the event was clearly a horrible surprise. “Never thought it could be me“, he states. “Healthy and good numbers on blood pressure and cholesterol. Well I have a propensity to build plaque. My left main was 99% blocked“.
The heart condition, also nicknamed the ‘widow maker’, is caused by a complete blockage of one of the arteries that supplies blood to the heart. According to Weir, his left main artery was 99% blocked. This blockage can happen over time due to the accumulation of fatty materials (called plaque), which can build up and narrow the arteries. If parts of this built-up plaque break off, blood begins to stick to the damaged area. This causes a blood clot, and if the clot is big enough it will stop the flow of blood through the artery to the heart muscle, causing a heart attack.
Without blood supply, the heart muscle will then begin to die. The amount of damage sustained is dependent on how long the blockage occurs for before it is treated.
At this point in time, it is unknown what damage Weir’s heart has sustained, and therefore what the effects will be longterm. His Instagram post does include a photo from his hospital bed and a photo of a noticeboard in his room, which indicates he is receiving a troponin test every six hours. The levels of troponin (a protein found in certain muscle tissue) typically elevate in areas of muscle cell death. As such, measuring cardiac troponin levels is used as a diagnostic indicator to determine the amount of damage within the heart muscle.
Our thoughts are with Weir and his family, and we’re all hoping for as positive a prognosis as can be expected.
Here’s the word directly from Weir’s Instagram account;
“They call it the widow maker. Had chest pains for about 6 weeks. Never thought it could be me. Healthy and good numbers on blood pressure and cholesterol. Well I have a propensity to build plaque. My left main was 99% blocked. They said I am lucky to be alive. Just thought I would share, just cause you are fit dos not mean you are immune. I feel lucky to look in my sons eyes and grab my wife’s hands as she walks by. Knowing I’ll never be what I use to be but I’ll be the best I can be today and maybe just a little better then I was yesterday.”
Comments and well-wishes from fans and friends have flooded Weir’s Instagram account, where the news was first announced. Many from the bike industry have also responded, including Weir’s old teammate Jerome Clementz, current and previous sponsors including Cannondale and Santa Cruz Bicycles, and fellow professional mountain bikers including Steve Peat, Fabien Barel and Hans Rey.
The news is particularly harrowing given Weir’s apparent fitness and otherwise healthy lifestyle. Generally speaking, a heart attack is more likely to affect someone with a smoking history, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or a family history of heart attack. However, as many of us have likely encountered before, it can also affect those who are otherwise deemed healthy and low-risk.
For those wondering, the symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain and/or tightness on the chest, and a shortness of breath that can be accompanied by sweating or nausea. If you experience any of those symptoms – especially if they are brought on by exercise – then please make sure you see your doctor immediately.
Back to Weir, and of course some may point out that this isn’t the first life-threatening encounter for the moustached Californian enduro racer. Back in early 2014, he was crushed by a 300-pound oak tree branch that he and several others were attempting to push off the trail. The tree branch fell onto Weir’s side, breaking his sacrum and cracking his pelvis in three places;
Weir made a full recovery from that horrible encounter, which could have been much worse had the tree hit him slightly higher up the torso, or lower down at the legs.
Here’s hoping that Weir can pull through this latest health scare too. More updates as we get them.