Gary’s story

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Gary had a heart attack without warning. Here he talks about going from being a cardiac rehabilitation sceptic to realising it’s what helped him get his confidence, and his life, back.

My name's Gary and in February I had a major heart attack. I was a pretty heavy smoker and I loved having a beer and my father died of a heart attack so after the event it was pretty easy to realise why I had the heart attack. The days before the heart attack were normal as usual. I went to work like a normal day. I started to have chest pains and decided to drive myself to the hospital to get checked out. I got 200 meters from the hospital and basically had a heart attack in the car. From then on in I underwent a stent in my left artery. I had one hundred percent blockage. I'd had no warning signs that morning or the night before, everything was normal. I had fractures in my sternum and in some ribs from the severity of the CPR.

Psychologically, it was very hard. I realized how lucky I was to be alive. My wife and my nurse signed me up to cardiac rehab. What I learnt from cardiac rehab really kept me going. It helped me understand how to continue with my life. My thoughts initially about cardiac rehab were, you know, “I don’t need that I'm a bloke.” I was very hesitant to start with, but once I got it was just incredible. Just to talk to people that had been through the same thing was good and to learn the right type of exercises I should be doing. I wasn't ready for it by any means but you just had to get up and get on with the cardiac rehab and that showed me that you can go for a walk that you can exercise.

The confidence it gave me was really important. Realising that the future still holds a normal life and that I wasn’t going to let what happened change my life. For somebody that started as a big downer, six weeks after I started the course I changed my whole view and it was just tremendous. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Learn how cardiac rehabilitation can help you, or find a cardiac rehabilitation service online. You can also call the Heart Foundation Helpline 13 11 12 for help finding a service near you.