"I was a ticking time bomb, but I was fortunate - some people don't get that same warning."
It took the unfortunate deaths of three of Richie Thornton's friends, 12 years of symptoms, and a good doctor or two to keep the former Tamworth real estate agent from having what could have been a fatal heart attack.
"When people think heart attack symptoms, they think chest pain and arm pain, but not many people are aware of the dizziness," he said.
In 2006, after a lifetime of sport and activity, Mr Thornton began having dizzy spells.
A mid-life change of attitude prompted him to go and get checked out, only to discover that he had an unusual, or irregular, heart rate.
"The worst thing about blokes is they have to be carried to a doctor - a few years back I changed my attitude to that - now if there is a problem I get it fixed," he said.
"I always knew I had an irregular heart reading, so would have to tell them every time I broke a finger or something else and had to get it fixed.
"But the dizzy spells started to get a bit worse and more frequent; and, after my good mate Mick Adams had a heart attack, I went and got more checks."
Mr Thornton was seeing local cardiologist Alex Levendel, who broke the sobering news to him the best way he knew.
"As I walked in for my next appointment, Dr Levendel said, 'Fit people have heart problems, too, you know'," Mr Thornton said.
"He told me the reason for the dizzy spells was that my heart was stopping. I was a ticking time bomb."
Since then Mr Thornton has had an internal defibrillator fitted - or, as he refers to it, "an inbuilt paddy whacker" - and is back to enjoying his retirement and grandchildren.
And he has a stern warning for other men this Men's Health Week.
"Your GP is like a wicket keeper - you have to use them regularly. They can pick up on symptoms you don't even know you have yet, and that time matters," he said.
"Don't ignore symptoms. How many people might be walking around having dizzy spells that could be leading to a heart attack? Get checked out."
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, with one person dying every 12 minutes, or about 120 people a day.
Men's Health Week 2019 is themed "Keeping boys and men healthy", with a focus on preventative checks for males of all ages.