I am
Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

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.

One minute, Grant was playing his bass guitar; the next he was being flown to hospital after a serious heart attack. Significant lifestyle changes – including increased exercise, yoga and meditation – have made him feel much better. 

A life-long Led Zeppelin fan, Grant Byrne, 54, worked in the building industry, while playing bass guitar on the side. About a decade ago, he became a professional musician, playing in cover bands and accompanying other performers around Queensland.  

Grant’s heart story 

“I’m a bass guitarist with a few different cover bands. I’m stuck in the 70s, playing the music I grew up with. On the morning of my heart attack in February 2018, when I was 52, I had a swim in the hotel pool after a gig the night before. I was looking forward to another show that night, playing 70s and 80s covers.  

While I was swimming, I had an odd feeling in my chest. It wasn’t pain, but I remember thinking, ‘I wonder what that is?’ I’d never had any worries about my heart and had no family history, although I had smoked, on and off, until about five years ago. 

Later that same day, I was in the hotel room playing some music when I suddenly felt nauseous and a bit weak, like I needed to lay down on the bed. As soon as I did, though, I felt an incredible, crushing pain across my chest, like an elephant was sitting on me and suffocating me, and I knew straight away that I was having a heart attack. 

I called out to my partner Janice, who rang an ambulance while I just focused on breathing, on staying alive. It was frightening, and I thought: ‘I could die from this’. It took about 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive because the hotel was in a gated community, but it felt longer than 15 minutes to me. Doctors at the local hospital in Hervey Bay gave me clot-busting drugs and within a couple of hours I was in a helicopter, heading for hospital on the Sunshine Coast.  

I have a bit of claustrophobia, so I meditated in the helicopter to help me deal with everything that was happening. A couple of years earlier, I’d needed surgery for cancer in my jaw; part of the bone was removed and replaced with part of my fibula in a 14-hour operation. The recovery was slow and difficult mentally and emotionally, and I’d recently started meditating as way of coping with anxiety. 
In the helicopter after the heart attack, I felt very strongly: I want to live. 
After the cancer operation, I felt terrible. Really low. And at the time I thought, ‘I want to die’. But I remember being in the helicopter after the heart attack, I felt very strongly: ‘I want to live.’ 

When I arrived at the hospital, the doctor on call decided that I needed a stent straight away. It was a STEMI heart attack, a severe heart attack caused by a complete blockage of an artery supplying blood to the heart, so very serious, and it has left me with some permanent damage to my heart muscle. Treatment for the heart attack also revealed a structural problem with one of my heart valves I’d had since birth but never known about, a bicuspid aortic valve. 

Recovery was a little slow and didn’t exactly have me jumping for joy. Regulating my medication wasn’t easy but things gradually improved. 

I found cardiac rehab incredibly helpful. It gave me the confidence to exercise. I don’t get into the Lycra, but I ride my bike to the beach most days. And I got information that helped me to improve my diet.

One of the most important changes I have made is working to reduce my stress with yoga and meditation. I’d meditated before, on and off, and it helped after the cancer operation. I’ve really taught myself by reading up and using an app.  
I really like the clarity and calmness mediation has brought me since my heart attack.
 After a heart attack, you can get the cardiac blues and feel depressed and anxious. Any feeling you feel that’s a bit out of the ordinary can make you think, ‘Oh no, that’s my heart’. But I find that meditation makes me more positive, calmer, less reactive and less likely to tense up. I think that getting out into nature, too, has a similar effect.”

Grant’s one piece of advice  

You’re not alone. Things do improve. Learn to love taking care of yourself and be grateful for life.


Discover more heart stories  

You might also be interested in

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

The Heart Foundation has designed a series of emails to help people who've had heart attacks (and their loved ones) through their recovery....

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

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

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. ...

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...

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

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. ...

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....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Learn about the common tests your doctor may want you to have to diagnose your heart condition....

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

Recommendations for assessing Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

2021 NSW CVRN Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research

2021 NSW CVRN Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research

Nominations are now open for the 2021 NSW Cardiovascular Research Network’s (CVRN) Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research....

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL TRIALS ...

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

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

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Serves Makes 350g | (Serves 8 – about 2 tablespoons - 44g)

Supporting local Councils in South Australia

Supporting local Councils in South Australia

Supporting local Councils in South Australia

Resources to help support your council region to be healthy, connected and safe....

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

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)

This is a device inserted into your chest to return abnormal heart rhythms to normal using electrical impulses. ...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

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

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Media Release - 16 November 2020...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Breakfast bean and mushroom pizza

Breakfast bean and mushroom pizza

Breakfast bean and mushroom pizza

20 minutes
Serves 2

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Find heart healthy chicken recipes....

Heart health submissions to Government

Heart health submissions to Government

Every day we are lobbying government and industry to improve heart health....

Driving Best Practice CVD Prevention in a Post-COVID World

Driving Best Practice CVD Prevention in a Post-COVID World

Driving Best Practice CVD Prevention in a Post-COVID World

Keeping a close watch on brain and kidney health during heart surgery.

Keeping a close watch on brain and kidney health during heart surgery.

Keeping a close watch on brain and kidney health during heart surgery.

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Statistics and information on heart attack in Australia...

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....

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

10 minutes
Serves 2 (Makes 2 cups)

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...

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. ...

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Find heart healthy dessert recipes....