Cork woman: I had a massive heart attack at 44 - now I’m doing mini marathon

A woman who had a heart attack, aged 44, is doing The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon this month in aid of the Irish Heart Foundation. CHRIS DUNNE finds out more
Cork woman: I had a massive heart attack at 44 - now I’m doing mini marathon

Roisin O’Mahony is doing The Echo Women's Mini Marathon for the Irish Heart Foundation on September 18. She is pictured with husband Dave and their children Zach aged 16 and Faye aged 14,

BALLINCOLLIG woman Roisin O’Mahony is doing The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon for the Irish Heart Foundation.

She had a heart attack three years ago, saying: “It happened out of the blue and it came as a fierce shock to me and my husband, Dave.”

Roisin’s story began on April 6, 2019, when she felt ill.

“I was just feeling not right and exhausted,” says Roisin, who was 44 at the time.

“I took it easy for the weekend and had no mind for food. Sunday night I felt miserable. I felt so bloated and had this feeling that I needed to burp all the time. I hardly slept that night and decided to go to my GP in the morning. I took the kids to school and went to my GP on Monday morning.

“He examined me and agreed that my stomach was bloated and gave me something to help. I went back home but the pain at the top of my stomach and bloated feeling kept getting worse so I rang my GP again and he told me to come back in after lunch. By lunch time I was vomiting or dry retching and couldn’t sit or stand comfortably,” says Roisin.

“I went to the GP and he thought it might be an ulcer. He decided to send me in to hospital at that stage. This was about 2.30pm. I rang Dave to come home from work and he brought me to the Mater.”

Things got worse.

“As we were on the link road, I started to get pain in my neck and an ache in my right shoulder. It kind of felt heavy. I got to the hospital and they did my vital signs and drew blood. My blood pressure was through the roof!” says Roisin.

“I remember the nurse commenting that she didn’t think it could go that high. While they were waiting for my bloods to come back, I went for a CT scan of my stomach. When I came back after the scan, I was brought into a room and told that from my blood work I had had a heart attack.”

Roisin got a shock.

“It was certainly not what I was expecting to hear,” she says.

“ The next thing I knew I was given something to relax me and I was taken to the CAT lab for an angiogram. 

"I don’t remember too much after that to be honest, until I was up in a room hooked up to monitors and oxygen and the cardiologist telling me that I had had a massive heart attack with a 98% blockage in the main artery from the heart, the LAD it’s called.

“Thank goodness they were able to remove the blockage and put in a stent. I spent the next 48 hours being monitored so very closely by the amazing nurses in the cardiac ward in the Mater. I was left home after five days with a huge amount of medication.

“In August, the cardiac nurse started me on the cardiac rehab program. It was great to meet other people that had had some sort of heart episode. You felt that you were not alone. None of my friends would have experienced heart problems, nor would they have been faced with their own mortality. It is a frightening thing and can cause anxiety.”

REACHED OUT FOR SUPPORT

Roisin got vital support from the Irish Heart Foundation.

“Afterwards, I felt isolated so it was great to know that I was not alone,” says Roisin.

“The Irish Heart Foundation were a great support and I could ask questions on their Facebook page and I always got an answer from someone who had had a similar experience themselves.

“I had got a fierce shock and my husband Dave still says three years on that the last thing we expected to be told was that I was having a heart attack. Prior to that, I didn’t have any heart-related health problems and didn’t suffer from high blood pressure.”

But Roisin’s dad suffered three heart attacks and he had a bypass after the third one.

“The men in our family were tested for heart disease,” says Roisin. “But not the women. The symptoms vary hugely between men and women.

“For women, often a case of bad indigestion is suspected, which is what I thought I had. Even now, if I get bad indigestion I think I might be getting a heart attack. The anxiety is still there.”

MAKING CHANGES

Roisin, mum to Zach, aged 16, and Faye, aged 14, changed her lifestyle after her heart attack.

“I made changes both physically and mentally,” she says.

“I appreciate things a lot more. I got more active and got out walking . I’ll be walking the mini-marathon for the Irish Heart Foundation. I think they are a great organisation that offers great support to people who have had a heart attack or a stroke and they offer support to their families as well. It is great to know that they are there.

“The GPs can be overwhelmed with patients and you can access the Irish Heart Foundation easily.

“Even three years on, I can get in contact with people who have had a similar experience.

“So I’m delighted to be supporting the Irish Heart Foundation doing The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon.”

SETTING HERSELF A CHALLENGE

Is this Roisin’s first time doing the mini-marathon?

“I did it before, a long time ago - about 10 years ago,” says Roisin.

“I did it for ARC House Cork. My pal passed away from breast cancer and she received great care and support at ARC House, so I did the mini-marathon with her family.”

Roisin got into walking big-time after her heart attack.

“I did a walk in June for the Irish Heart Foundation - it was walk your dog with you for 100k during the month and I raised over €200. I was delighted to give something back.

“I’m hoping to raise a similar amount doing The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon.”

Roisin loves the atmosphere around the mini-marathon from the word go.

“There’s always a great atmosphere at the start line,” she says. “And so much encouragement along the route. It’s a unique feeling; really good.”

Roisin’s dogs, Bran and Layla, won’t be accompanying her on the 6k route on Sunday, September 18.

“But my family will be cheering me on from the side-lines and we’ll enjoy a bite to eat afterwards to finish off the day,” she explains. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Irish Heart Foundation, founded in 1966, supports and campaigns for people who have been affected by heart attacks and strokes throughout their lives.

For more information info@irishheart.ie

HOW TO TAKE PART IN THE ECHO WOMEN’S MINI MARATHON

Early registration is advised for this year’s mini marathon , as numbers will be capped at 4,000.

The event takes place on September 18, starting at Centre Park Road.

You can register at www.echolive.ie/minimarathon/

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