I am
Jo's heart story
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Jo's heart story

Joanne had five stents inserted into her heart in her early forties. Fifteen years later she had a triple bypass.

Jo talks about her recovery journey, learning to look after herself and why she no longer makes excuses when it comes to her health.




I'm Joanne and I have genetic high cholesterol. I've got five stents and three years ago I had a triple bypass.

I was a smoker the worst thing you could do when you've got a history of heart disease or you have heart disease. My father had his first heart attack of 52, I was in my 40s.

I found walking upstairs kind of got a little bit breathless. I also was getting pains on my left shoulder radiating down my arm. I thought it was best I go and see a Doctor then a cardiologist. they referred me to a hospital to have an angiogram which showed I had a ninety-seven percent blockage in my left circumflex artery, which is the artery at the back of the heart. Living in a country area I was told “it's only a small artery and it's inaccessible – we’ll treat you with medication.” But I didn't like the sound of that. I was in my early 40s and I thought there's got to be more than this. So I asked my GP to refer me down to Sydney down to the Victor Chang clinic.

I was on my treadmill every afternoon and I was getting a burning sensation in the middle of my chest and I thought “oh I've got trouble with my lungs.” It then got to a stage where I found out every artery in my heart was blocked. I knew I’d better do something about it so the cigarettes went out the window.

The one thing about my family that's concerning for me is the genetic condition. They have been made aware of what can happen because they've seen their mum go through what I have. I’ve realised that I'm not infallible. I realise I've got to look after myself if I want to live this life. I’ve got beautiful children and grandchildren, a loving husband.


Women do have heart disease. It's not just an old man thing. Too many people ignore their symptoms. You know, you always make excuses. Don't make excuses. Do something about it because it may be too late. I'm just very’ very damn lucky it wasn't too late for me.

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

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....

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....

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....

Exercising for heart and soul

Exercising for heart and soul

Exercising for heart and soul

Alicia Philipatos was three days old when her heart condition was diagnosed...

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

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

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. ...

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

I’d always thought of myself as fairly fit; I swam a lot, and did ‘soft running’, a combination of running and walking. ...

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....

Research Directory

Research Directory

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....

Finding support and connection after a heart attack: Nicola Surbevski’s heart story

Finding support and connection after a heart attack: Nicola Surbevski’s heart story

Finding support and connection after a heart attack: Nicola Surbevski’s heart story

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you're 45 and over, or 30 and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today...

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart health information and resources

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart health information and resources

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart health information and resources

Heart disease can occur 10 to 20 years earlier among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and can lead to long-term health problems. ...

How can I set and achieve goals to improve my heart health?

How can I set and achieve goals to improve my heart health?

How can I set and achieve goals to improve my heart health?

Question of the month blog...

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

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

Pregnancy and heart disease

Pregnancy and heart disease

Information and resources for health professionals....

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Australia, but the burden of disease disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

Serves Makes 1 cup | Serves 6 (2 tablespoons – 40ml)

Nourishing chicken soup

Nourishing chicken soup

Nourishing chicken soup

1 hour
Serves Serves 6

Nutrition Position Statements

Nutrition Position Statements

Nutrition Position Statements

The Heart Foundation’s food and nutrition position statements have been developed to keep you informed about our position on a range of nutrition issues relating to heart health. ...

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Resources to help people follow a heart healthy eating pattern in their daily lives. ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of hypertension....

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

The program works with local communities to help improve heart health in the Pilbara....

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

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....

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years....

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

While water is clearly the most heart-healthy drink, there are ther drinks that can be enjoyed in moderation. ...

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients