“Get your heart checked.”
That’s the message Libby McMahon wants to get out to the community after having a heart attack three years ago.
A recent report from Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute has called for cardiovascular health to become a priority among the community, health professionals and governments.
Too many people with risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes went untreated, the report said.
Ms McMahon had a mild heart attack in January 2013.
“Heart disease isn’t well publicised. I thought a heart attack was like the movies where you hold on to your chest and you fall down- which apparently it is, but they’re the ones that you die from,” she said.
“I just felt revolting. I felt like I had been hit by a bus, totally exhausted.”
It wasn’t until her husband convinced her to go to hospital instead of work like she had planned, that Ms McMahon was told she was having a heart attack.
“I did have signs that I totally ignored. I had tightness in my chest, I had breathlessness, I was burping and I had indigestion, I had hot flushes. But they could all be justified,” she said.
The hot flushes were attributed to the 40-degree January heat, Ms McMahon said. The indigestion was simply from her lunch. And as for the exhaustion, it had been busy.
“I just put it down to, ‘we just had Christmas’ and I had two weddings booked in that weekend to do. Life’s just busy, everyone is busy, and so you justify it away,” she said.
Now Ms McMahon encourages her children and siblings, as well as the rest of the community, to get their hearts checked.
“The biggest thing is if you’ve had a heart attack or you have heart disease in your family you must go and get it checked. Get your children checked, it’s very important,” she said.
“Women are fantastic at getting mammograms and we all go and get pap smears but we don’t get our hearts checked.”