Almost 10 years ago, Canberra local Glen Farrant thought he had only pulled a muscle as his chest began to ache.
He had spent hours doing heavy lifting and at midnight, after a shower, he noticed the pain. Within minutes, the pain began to escalate until he felt like a heavy weight was sitting on his chest and he was going to vomit.
At the time, Mr Farrant was 52 years old, and was later told he was lucky to survive his heart attack.
“I knew something was wrong,” he said.
“Alison rang the ambulance … It took about an hour from my first symptoms until I was in intensive care with a stent in.”
Mr Farrant said it was lucky his wife Alison immediately thought of her father, who had died of a heart attack at 39, and recognised the symptoms.
He was told by hospital staff if he had waited any longer to go to hospital, his own experience would have been “more serious”.
Prior to his heart attack in 2011, Mr Farrant had never had a heart check, and was shocked to realise heart attacks are responsible for causing almost one in 20 deaths in Australia.
“As I was going into hospital, I was wondering whether this was the end. My father died of a heart attack, Alison’s father died of a heart attack, I thought it was my number up,” he said.
According to the Heart Foundation, one fifth of Australians aged 45-74 years have a high chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
While deaths from heart attacks have been decreasing over time, researchers are concerned that following the COVID-19 pandemic, people are not undertaking preventative health assessments such as a regular Heart Health Check.
This Heart Week, 3-9 May, the Heart Foundation has a focus on supporting health professionals to deliver more heart checks to eligible patients.
As a grandfather to three young girls, Mr Farrant said surviving his heart attack experience has made him realise what he could have missed out on.
“If I’d known about heart checks, I would have gone off to the doctor … I could have been dead, simple as that,” he said.
Mr Farrant said that he now has a Heart Health Check every year, alleviating any worry or concern about future heart problems.
The Heart Foundation is currently pushing for Heart Health Checks to be covered by Medicare while they urge eligible Australians not to delay making that potentially life-saving GP appointment, warning complacency can come at a cost.
Mr Farrant said he believes Australians often avoid getting their heart checked because it is a case of “I’ll do that tomorrow”.
“Having a heart attack changed my life dramatically … you don’t realise what’s important until you go through a situation like that,” he said.
“Something as easy as a heart check can save your life.”
To learn more, visit the Heart Foundation website or call the Helpline on 13 11 12.
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