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Melton Heart Foundation walking groups help heal hearts
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Melton Heart Foundation walking groups help heal hearts

Media Release - 28 June 2021

Half of all heart attack patients struggle to resume daily activities like housework, gardening or walking or jogging to similar levels before their heart attack, Heart Foundation data says.

In a survey of more than 400 heart attack survivors, close to 40 per cent of patients said they can do some physical activity but not to the same level as before their heart attack. One in seven said they can’t do any physical activity.

Harkness resident and retired disability worker, 68-year-old Maryann Self credits her three Heart Foundation walking groups for helping her stay active after her open-heart surgery.

“After regularly working night shifts, I knew I wasn’t as fit as I could have been. But last year, I was out walking the dog, when I felt a tightness in my arm and chest. After catching my breath, the pain disappeared, so I thought nothing of it,” Maryann said.

“In talking to my sister-in-law, she made me promise to speak to my doctor. Fortunately, I had already booked an appointment with my GP for the following week.”

After a series of tests and a referral to a cardiologist, Maryann underwent an angiogram at Sunshine Hospital which revealed she had a 95 per cent blockage in her main heart artery.

“I woke up to be told by staff that I was being transferred to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.  

“When I found out that I needed open-heart surgery, I was shocked. From angiogram to surgery a couple of days later, it all happened very quickly.

“With heart disease in my family, I should have known, but still I’d ignored the warning signs. I was so lucky to avoid a heart attack.”

Now Maryann is a keen walker with the Melton Library Walkers, the Kurunjang and Bridge Road Heart Foundation groups.

“I had my heart event during the first COVID-19 lockdown, so it was hard to stay motivated doing exercises at home after my surgery. Walking with others in the Heart Foundation groups has been a lifesaver,” Maryann said. 

“Don’t hibernate at home - it’s so important to be active. I’ve met lovely people in my walking groups. I get to walk at my own pace, so while I’m not one of the fastest, I hope to increase my speed.

“Once you start, it gets into your blood and I miss it if I don’t walk regularly. I want to be around for my grandchildren.”

Heart Foundation CEO in Victoria, Kellie-Ann Jolly, said “Walking is free medicine for your heart and mind. And for people who have suffered a heart event, it’s a gentle way to increase your activity level.

“As well, joining a Heart Foundation walking group has the added benefit of keeping up motivation and finding support through meeting other locals. Winter is a hard time to stay physically active, but it’s so important to build these healthy habits now.

“Being inactive is a key risk factor for heart disease, which takes 13 Victorian lives every day. We know physical activity is a “wonder drug” that if taken regularly can help ward off heart disease and other chronic conditions.

“I urge all Victorians who may have delayed or cancelled their regular health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic to get a Heart Health Check to learn their risks for heart attack and stroke in the next five years.

“As we exit our fourth lockdown in twelve months, now’s the perfect time to prioritise health needs by getting a free COVID-19 vaccination, if eligible, and booking a Heart Health Check with your GP.”

The Heart Foundation recommends that people aged 45 years and over, or 30 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, should see their doctor for a Heart Health Check every two years or as advised by their GP.

In Victoria, the Heart Foundation has 6362 walkers participating across 248 walking groups. To join a free group in your area, please visit walking@heartfoundation.org.au

For the latest vaccine information from the Victorian Department of Health, please go to www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine

Media enquiries

Debora McInnes, Senior Media Advisor
M: 0423 827 697 E: debora.mcinnes@heartfoundation.org.au

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