“It saved my life!”

Heart Healthcare Story

I was running errands after dropping my daughter off at school.

It was on a morning just like any other, when I began to experience a headache that was unlike any I’d ever felt before. It came on fast and strong and soon my vision was so blurry, I couldn’t read the speedometer.

I knew I was having a stroke because, just a few days before, I had read about the signs of stroke from a news article.

I quickly pulled into the nearest parking lot and stepped out of my minivan to get help, when my body felt very weak, and I collapsed. A storekeeper saw me go down and immediately called an ambulance.

It’s strange to me now, because a week earlier, I wouldn’t have known what these signs meant.

It was because I knew, and pulled over so quickly to get help, that I was able to get to the hospital in time to receive an intravenous tissue plasminogen activator to help reverse the stroke’s effects on my body. It saved my life!

Lying in my hospital bed, the stroke had left me with no feeling on the left side of my body. Only through months of physiotherapy was I able to climb back to feeling well again.

These rehabilitative programs helped me get on my feet again, at first with a walker, then with two canes. Now I’m able to walk without assistance.

The only residual effect of the stroke is a lingering paralysis in three fingers on my left hand and that I can live with!

– Maryann, 54

“There are many specialised tests that can be carried out.”

Heart Healthcare Story

Chest pain is an emergency and 20 percent of people who have a heart attack do not even make it to hospital.

If you make it to hospital, then the emergency department in concert with the cardiology department can do something about your heart attack.

There are many specialised tests that can be carried out, but one of the most important things is to realise a heart attack is time-critical, and these things can be managed rapidly in the right setting.

People who develop a non-critical situation of requiring assessment of their heart can go through the process if the specialised testing is available and this includes exercise testing, angiography, CT scanning and, if necessary, coronary bypass surgery.

Coronary artery disease is still a major cause of death and suffering for Australia and needs to be taken seriously.

– Dr Ron Dick – Cardiologist

“When I sat down on the bench, I turned pale and started sweating.”

It was not uncommon for me to hit the links four times a week.

But on this day, my game was off. I kept missing the ball.

So I decided to walk slowly ahead of the others. While I was climbing up to the 14th hole – it’s so steep golfers call it heart attack hill – I had trouble catching my breath.

When I sat down on the bench, I turned pale and started sweating. I also experienced pain in my right shoulder and tingling in my right jaw.

At the urging of my golf partners, I went home and booked an appointment with our family doctor. Even though an electrocardiogram and blood tests showed no signs of a heart attack, our doctor referred me to a cardiologist.

That’s when I found out I had heart disease – three of my major arteries were dangerously blocked. Given that uncles on both sides of my family had heart disease and had died early, I was fortunate.

The cardiologist told me I would certainly have had a heart attack and died if I hadn’t gone to see my family doctor.

Surgeons placed stents to open up my blocked arteries and then I attended a year of cardiac rehabilitation. All was well.

So when I began to experience indigestion again a year later, I didn’t think anything of it. In fact, my doctors figured it was probably due to acid reflux.

The indigestion always happened when I was active – like walking my two German Shepherds.

Because I continued to feel unwell, my doctor finally booked an angiogram, which revealed the stents had closed up and needed replacing. I’m thankful my doctors didn’t give up on me.

Listen to your body. There’s no harm in having your symptoms checked out. Be persistent.

Women, especially, need to be better informed about heart disease.

– Margaret, 48