Debbie's heart story
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since.

After her heart attack, Debbie felt helpless and that there was no hope left for her. Hear Debbie’s story.




I'm Debbie and I’m recovering from double bypass surgery. At Christmas, I had something quite a stressful happen to me and I just went downhill and didn’t do very much exercise. Once I got out of that situation, I thought that’s it, I’m going to start exercising again.

Within three minutes of doing my walk, I started getting heartburn and I thought “Hmm what’s going on?”I kept walking and it kept doing it, so I sat down and rested and it went away. The next day I did the same thing and the same thing happened. Nothing seemed to make it any better. A couple of days later I was doing some shopping and I thought I’d better go to the Doctors and see if they could give me some stronger medication. The Doctor asked what my symptoms were and said that sounds like angina not indigestion.

I had an angiogram and they told me but I had a ninety percent blockage in my main artery and that I had days to live. The surgery took about six hours and it was awful, but it had to be done and it saved my life.
After the surgery, I went home and I found it really hard.  One day, I was rummaging through my drawers, getting my tablets out, and I found the Cardiac Rehabilitation flier and started flicking through it and I just thought “yeah why not,  I’ll give it a go.

At the time I was feeling really down and I just didn't feel that there was anywhere to go. So I rang the rehab centre and went there and I’ve never looked back.

I was on a high. I really was. For the first time after my heart attack, I felt like there was hope. Before I started I thought there was nothing. I just thought this is it, this is as good as it gets.

But I was wrong and rehab showed me that’s not as good as it gets. The psychologist that came in was awesome and he spoke to us about sleep and how we're feeling and I just learned so much from him.

They also had somebody come in and talk to us about how to get physical again, what to eat, what not to eat. They also talked about sex with your partners and getting on with it. It was so informative because the one thing my husband had read on the cardiac recovery sheet was after three weeks you can become sexually active again. But he went the opposite way where he didn't want to go near me as he didn't want to hurt me. So discussing all that in a really comfortable session really helped us.

Rehab has helped me so much and changed me so much. Without it I think I’d still be sitting at home crying and depressed thinking this is it, this is what I'm going to be doing the rest of my life. But that’s not the case. It's absolutely not the case.

Rehab helps you move on. It gives you hope and it makes you feel better. If you talk to other people who are going through the same thing as you, you don't feel so alienated.

I'm living until I'm 95 and I'm going to die with a smile on my face. I've always said that since I was little and now I mean it, I really mean it.

I recently asked my surgeon “Do you reckon I could live to 95?” and he said “Absolutely.”

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.

You might also be interested in

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

At the heart of Mother’s Day

At the heart of Mother’s Day

At the heart of Mother’s Day

Three people living with heart disease share how their Mums helped them face their health challenges....

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

Running has been an important part of Boyd's life, so imagine his shock when a heart condition he had never heard of threatened to put a stop to it. ...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Join the Heart Foundation in South Australia for the journey of a lifetime, trekking the ancient Flinders Ranges to help save Australian hearts....

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

Open heart surgery to treat damaged heart valves has improved Jan's overall health....

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Thankfully for Grant Byrne, a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, some quick thinking helped him avoid a stairway to heaven. Read Grant’s heart attack story now. ...

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Statistics and information on heart attack in Australia...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Resources to help you create a more physically active workplace....

Heart Foundation supports Wollongong City Council’s draft 10-year cycling strategy

Heart Foundation supports Wollongong City Council’s draft 10-year cycling strategy

Heart Foundation supports Wollongong City Council’s draft 10-year cycling strategy

Media Release - 30 June 2020 ...

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Having a mental health condition can have a negative impact on your heart health and increase your risk of heart disease....

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Explore our research award recipients and projects...

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts is a six-episode series interviewing young people with lived experience of heart conditions and talking through advice for supporting emotional health and well-being....

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

QCVRN provides a framework to strengthen cardiovascular research in Queensland...

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win $20,000 while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in South Australia

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in South Australia

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in South Australia

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

With immediate help a cardiac arrest can be survived. Learn how to save a life....

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....