Show me:
Show me:
Margaret's heart story
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Margaret's heart story

Margaret was young, fit and otherwise healthy but suffered a major heart attack that could have devastated her life

Listen to Margaret’s heart attack story and how cardiac rehabilitation gave her the tools she needed to get her confidence back.




My first heart attack was, as you might imagine, quite a harrowing experience. I would never have dreamed that at 35 years of age I was susceptible to a heart attack.

I had been getting dreadful angina, particularly when walking. I'd walk my young son, who was seven at the time, to school and just about pass out. I’d get to school and think “I’m unfit, I've got to get fitter.”So I worked harder to get my fitness level up. I didn’t’ have any idea that those pains I was getting, and the breathlessness and the dizziness, was me teetering on the edge of disaster.

The day of my heart attack, very good friends had invited us out onto their cruiser on the Sydney harbour. I was very much looking forward to the day. We got on board and as our trip progressed I started to feel quite ill and I put it down to actually being a bit motion sick. We went to a restaurant at Darling Harbor and I was at a point then where I couldn't eat. I felt horribly sick but was still putting it down to being motion sick. We got back onboard the boat and went touring around the harbour a little more and it was then that I started to get a tightness in the chest.

The pain went up the left side of my neck, around my jaw and down my back. I started having trouble breathing. Then I started to feel very, very nauseous and wanted to be sick. It wasn’t until I felt this crushing feeling, like the most incredible weight was crushing me, that I realised “this is a heart attack, we've got to do something quickly.”

Every heart attack can be different. Not everyone feels the same things, but that's how it was for me. By the time I got to the hospital, I had passed out. I remember my very last thought being “this is it, I'm gone” and that was an incredibly scary feeling. It all seems to happen so quickly. The pain is so incredibly intense, you can't imagine your body going through anymore. You really do think “this is it and I haven't had a chance to say goodbye to anyone or do all the things that I wanted to do or be with my child.”

Afterwards, I still thought death was imminent, even though I was being cared for very well by fantastic cardiologists. Initially, I didn't know how far I could walk after having the heart attack. I didn't know how far I could physically push myself. Could I pick things up? Could I do housework? Could I work again?

Rehab provides you with a program that not only strengthens you physically but also gets your mind around what you've been through. It taught me what I could do after having a heart attack and how far I should go. It gave me the confidence to do things. I feel it's imperative to go through a rehabilitation program for your physical well-being but very much for mental well-being as well because having a heart attack is a huge hit to deal with mentally.
I am quite possibly here today because of research and because of advances that scientists and cardiac researchers have made over the years.

This isn't just an olders persons disease, it can affect younger people of any age.

People need to know that heart attacks are the biggest killer of women in Australia over and above breast cancer and many other diseases.

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

Heart Week 2022

Heart Week 2022

Heart Week 2022

With one Australian having a heart attack or stroke every 4 minutes, you have the power to change this statistic. ...

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...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Together, we can change the future of heart disease

Together, we can change the future of heart disease

Together, we can change the future of heart disease

The power of your ongoing support can help save lives and keep more families together. Help us continue to fund promising heart research projects by donating today. ...

Health Professional Tools

Health Professional Tools

Health Professional Tools

Guidelines, publications and support for the health professional community....

Future Leader Fellowship

Future Leader Fellowship

Stipend and project support funding for the best and brightest in cardiovascular research. ...

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Nourishing chicken soup

Nourishing chicken soup

Nourishing chicken soup

1 hour
Serves 6

Spinach and ricotta rice flan

Spinach and ricotta rice flan

Spinach and ricotta rice flan

50 minutes
Serves 4

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....

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....

5 warning signs of a heart attack that you may not know

5 warning signs of a heart attack that you may not know

5 warning signs of a heart attack that you may not know

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Find heart healthy dessert recipes....

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Learn more about Heart Foundation Walking and find your local walking group....

Quesadillas with avocado and tomato salsa

Quesadillas with avocado and tomato salsa

12 minutes
Serves 6 (as a side)

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Salmon Tikka Parcels with Rice Salad

Salmon Tikka Parcels with Rice Salad

Salmon Tikka Parcels with Rice Salad

15 minutes
Serves 4

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Clinical information and links to SCAD resources....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

Mighty mango smoothie

Mighty mango smoothie

Mighty mango smoothie

10 minutes
Serves 1 - 450ml

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Become a Heart Foundation fundraiser, do it for heart and make a real difference to your community....

Lamb souvlaki wraps

Lamb souvlaki wraps

Lamb souvlaki wraps

5 minutes
Serves 2

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Find heart healthy kids recipes...

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

The National Heart Foundation of Australia Position Statement: Coronary artery calcium scoring for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Australia.¹...

What is plant-based eating

What is plant-based eating

What is plant-based eating

Learn about plant-based eating and its impact on heart health ...

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

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. ...

Lunch recipes

Lunch recipes

Lunch recipes

Search our lunch recipe ideas...

Chicken and avocado banh mi

Chicken and avocado banh mi

Chicken and avocado banh mi

15 minutes + 30 minutes chilling
Serves 4