Imagining a heart attack often conjures up ideas of pain, but one Wagga woman warns there are earlier signs to look out for.
Janine O’Callaghan had just returned from a three week trip around Tasmania and dismissed her discomfort as the backlash from all the activities.
“It wasn't pain,” she said.
“It was discomfort across my chest – I had the worst case of heartburn or reflux – and then I started feeling waves going up through my body.
“I didn't know it was my heart, but it scared me.”
Just four days after her 58th birthday, Ms O’Callaghan was told 95 percent of her main artery was blocked and she was in the middle of a heart attack.
“It took a while to sink in. I was in denial that I had a heart attack and I had survived,” she said. “Even now I stop and think ‘I could be dead’.”
Even before her the incident, Ms O’Callaghan was well aware of the importance of heart health.
“My dad died when he was 34 from a massive heart attack, so I've always been a bit paranoid,” she said.
“I did go to the cardiologist who said to come back in five years, but he had told me everything was perfect so I kept putting it off.”
As is the case for many who experience heart health complications, the three days of symptoms were nothing overly painful, just uncomfortable.
That’s a sign Ms O’Callaghan encourages people to take.
“Doctors and nurses kept telling me how lucky I was,” she said.
Aware of how fortunate she was, Ms O’Callaghan has since made it her mission encourage to the Wagga community to take their heart health seriously and not brush off small signs.
“It’s important to be aware of the symptoms and even if you have the smallest inkling, go see someone and get it checked out. Prevention is always better than cure.
“If you’re already at that stage of being unaware for so long, don’t think it’s ever too late – better late than never.”
New research findings from Amcal Pharmacy reveal that 24 percent of NSW locals aren’t concerned about proactively managing their health and generally ignore early warning signs of sickness.
Additionally, 38.7 percent have high cholesterol – a larger proportion than any other state in the survey.
Amcal senior pharmacist James Nevile said it was important for locals to have their heart health checked and know family history.
“They may not know they have some of these risk factors so a visit to a GP or pharmacist for a heart health check can be a relatively simple and cost effective way to assess their overall risk,” he said.