“I ignored the signs and family history of heart disease when I had my heart attack. It’s important to get new symptoms checked!”
Bernadette Moore (58) from Tallaght put her two-week chest pain down to indigestion. “I played around with my own life,” says Bernadette as she recalls what happened in February 2014.
Bernadette had a family history of heart conditions on both sides but as she’d never been ill – the only time she had been in hospital was to give birth to her three children. She put the pain in the centre of her chest down to indigestion. Little did she realise she’d had a heart attack.
Ignoring her symptoms
“It went on for two weeks and I was going into town one Saturday and it got really bad. I knew it was stronger than before and the pain shot down into my left arm,” she explains.
“I didn’t go to the emergency department because the pain went away but I made an appointment with my doctor for the Monday, just because of the pain in my arm. He examined me and told me to go straight to Tallaght Hospital.”
Shocked to find out it was a heart attack
She was informed that she’d had a heart attack but doctors were unsure as to when, though Bernadette believes it was that Saturday morning. “I’d been on Aspirin as a precaution and it still happened. I was totally shocked.”
Bernadette had a stent inserted through her arm to the blood vessels in the heart and was asked if she wanted to undergo cardiac rehabilitation in Tallaght Hospital.
“I would thoroughly recommend this programme for anyone in my position. It was Monday to Thursday, an hour each evening, for six weeks.”
She continued her exercise programme when she joined Parkwest gym and a series of classes designed for those who have had heart attacks and heart conditions. She praises instructor Joanna for making her ‘feel much better in myself.’
Exercise, family history and cholesterol tests
“I would have walked three times a week for an hour [before the attack], not at a gym. I don’t smoke now, but I was a smoker and stopped about 16 years ago. Even the doctor said to me: ‘Your lifestyle is quite healthy, you eat a great variety of food, you do your walking but unfortunately it’s hereditary.’”
Bernadette’s cholesterol is fine, but she had been taking a cholesterol tablet before the heart attack as a precaution. For others, she recommends having a fasting cholesterol test as doctors can tell a significant amount from it.
Her own kids and recognising new symptoms
Her three children are healthy too, but she knows that because of the risks associated, she should have been more aware of what could happen.
“I should have got checked, but I thought I was so healthy and never sick,” she says.
“I really would have put it down to indigestion.”
Bernadette ends her story by emphasising that “If anyone has new symptoms they are concerned about, even if they think it’s indigestion, it’s best to get it checked out.”
If you think you are having a heart attack, get help fast and dial 999 or 112.
Symptoms of a heart attack can include: chest discomfort, pain spreading to shoulders, neck, jaw or upper arms, indigestion, nausea, breaking out in a cold sweat, shortness of breath or unusual nervousness.