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Rugby league great Matthew Johns has opened up about a recent diagnosis that had him contemplating his premature death.
The popular player-turned-TV star revealed on Friday that he'd received some startling news during a recent check-up with a heart specialist.
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The Newcastle Knights legend has noticeably lost weight in recent months and said it was the confronting health news that sparked his transformation.
The 50-year-old said an appointment with a cardiologist revealed his cholesterol to be 7.4mmol per litre, much higher than the 5mmol per litre range recommended by health authorities.
“I started to have morbid thoughts on mortality when I was 7.4,” he said on his radio show on SEN Sydney on Friday.
“I was going, ‘Oh God, I’m gonna die’. When you reach 50 it’s going to happen sooner or later."
Johns, who helped Newcastle win the ARL premiership in 1997, said he had reached 93kg this year before the wake-up call.
At the peak of his playing days, Johns was around 89kg but with significantly more muscle mass.
“I’m in love with my cardiologist because I went and saw him yesterday. I went and saw him 12 months ago and my cholesterol was 7.4m,” Johns said.
“I ended up 93kg and then with the fasting with Sammy and the boys which we all did.
"And then just watching not getting on the 'sauce' too much and now I’m down to 3.4. Thanks very much.”
Matty Johns' weight loss after cholesterol diagnosis
Johns said his weight loss was largely the result of intermittent fasting, which involves multiple days per week of long periods without food.
Johns played 176 games for the Knights from 1992 to 2000, starring in the halves alongside brother and immortal Andrew.
He then spent a season apiece with the Wigan Warriors and Cronulla Sharks before retiring at the end of 2002.
Johns also played four State of Origin games for NSW and nine Test matches for Australia before forging a successful career in the media.
As well as his radio show, Johns has a successful podcast and is the host of his own TV show on Fox League.
He became a fan favourite on the Footy Show on Channel Nine before defecting to Foxtel.
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