Why Matt Shields will be wearing red this Valentine’s Day

By Felicity Kelly

14 February 2020

3 minute read

A man riding a bike on a dirt road with a 4WD and a beach behind him

Heart attack survivor and tech guru, Matt Shields is celebrating Wear Red Day in 2020.

A new lease on life

It’s safe to say Matt Shields lives his life to the extreme. Cycling 433 kilometres across New Zealand on a six-day bike race is one thing. But Matt completed this monumental feat after surviving a massive heart attack.

While training for the World Rogaining Championships in 2016, Matt experienced a ‘shot-gun’ pain in his chest before collapsing on the side of the road. On his way to the hospital, the paramedics used technology pioneered by Heart Research Australia (HRA) to take Matt’s ECG. An ECG, or electrocardiogram, is basically a machine that tests the electrical activity generated by the heart to see if there are problems.

Matt had a stent inserted to open a blockage in his arteries. This allowed the blood to reach his heart. The stent procedure, pioneered by HRA, can give immediate relief to patients. While in surgery, Matt had a stent inserted to open the blockage. This allowed the blood to reach his heart. The stent procedure, pioneered by HRA, can give immediate relief to patients.

HRA technology kept Matt alive during and after his heart attack. Now, Matt is an Ambassador for HRA. It’s a research organisation conducting ground-breaking research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

A new framework

After his heart attack, dealing with the pain, procedures and shock was the easy part for Matt. The hardest part was being told he could never run again. Facing that was mentally hard.

With the help from his cardiologist, and using his background in research and data, Matt developed his own lifecycle management framework. He experimented and tested, finding what worked for his body and what didn’t, allowing him to safely push further and further.

He knew where he wanted to be, but the problem was where he was in his head. But he continued to work at it.  With his psychologist, using apps such as Headspace and the framework he developed, Matt was able to get back into exercise. He even competed in the Six Pioneer Mountain race which travels 433 km climbing 12540 m through New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

Two men in riding gear. One man has his right arm in the air.

Credit: Dominique Hirigoyen

He’s also working to connect people affected by heart disease (either directly or their family or friends). He helps them start a dialogue, connect, get physically and mentally healthy, and maximise their sporting ability.

When Matt returned to work, he decided he wanted to switch his focus from astronomy to working in the health care space. Matt previously worked on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope developing methodology and principles.

Matt is currently working on MyLM, the My Lifecycle Management technology. It’s a medical device supply chain solution that streamlines biomedical part design and manufacture. MyLM provides a medical device delivery and monitoring solution for surgeons, hospitals and device manufacturers. The cloud-based platform improves efficiency and reduces supply chain costs.

This Valentine’s Day, Friday 14 Feb, Matt will be wearing red to raise awareness and funds for life-saving research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. If you’d like to find out more about HRA or to support Matt, head to his Wear Red Day fundraising page.