Helen’s story

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Helen has suffered two heart attacks. It wasn’t until her second that she realised the importance of exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Helen discusses her cardiac journey and how rehab helped her get her will power back.

My name is Helen and I had a heart attack. The problem was one blocked artery and two other small arteries that were narrow.

The first heart attack I had was in 2001 and that was a minor heart attack. That caused a little bit of damage on the bottom of my heart, but everything seemed to be going alright. But I was silly, like many others are. You know a lot of people don't give any notice and they don't follow their Doctor's advice because they’re busy or they’re stressed and they don't do anything about it.

When the second heart attack came, I rang 000 and said look I'm not feeling well. Within 10 minutes everybody was at my home, the ambulance was at home, everybody was there and they said we can't see anything wrong with your heart. So they took me to the hospital and gave me an angiogram. That's when I found out what was wrong and I ended up staying in hospital for five days.

After my second heart attack, the nurse said you have to do all these exercises and then you are going to feel much, much better.

Rehabilitation gave me my will power back. I learned that the what I was doing all these years, how I was eating and not exercising, was very wrong.

I’m a chef, I'm a cook and you know, we cook, we eat and I never realised that if you eat too much feta cheese or too much cream or all that fat stuff, that that's not good for you. I never watched my diet, never. I wanted to walk but I couldn’t. I wanted to take the rubbish to the bin but I didn’t want to walk the twenty meters. Now I leave my car far away so I can walk. I want to exercise you know what I mean, I want to exercise.

At rehab they encourage you do to everything and I love them for that. Cardiac rehab made me happier. It helps with stress and making you think positively. It teaches you that your diet is important. No more butter, no more salt, no more sugar. That's how it is. This is the key for everything. If your heart is not working, forget everything.

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.