Ballarat man gains a second chance after suffering a heart attack

OWEN Dunne did not realise he was having a heart attack until after he drove himself to the hospital emergency department. 

Owen Dunne and cardiac rehabilitation program co-ordinator Cathy McCann test Mr Dunne’s blood pressure. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Owen Dunne and cardiac rehabilitation program co-ordinator Cathy McCann test Mr Dunne’s blood pressure. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Instead, the 57-year-old thought he was suffering from severe indigestion and decided to ask for a second opinion.

“I was surprised I was having a heart attack,” Mr Dunne said. 

“I didn’t even tell my wife where I was going. I told her I was going for a drive.” 

When he arrived at Ballarat Base Hospital’s emergency department, Mr Dunne was taken in for testing.

“About 20 minutes later they said: ‘you’re having a heart attack, and in 10 minutes, you’re going into surgery,” he said. 

Mr Dunne was told he had a blockage in one of his arteries and required a stent. 

Following the incident last December, Mr Dunne has worked to minimise the chances of suffering another attack.

Mr Dunne, along with 300 other people, participates in the Queen Elizabeth Centres’ cardiac rehabilitation program. 

About 14 weeks after starting the program, Mr Dunne has lost 15 kilograms and plans to lose more. 

“I’m back at work and I’m also working out at the YMCA,” he said. 

Mr Dunne was told his family’s history of heart disease and being 25 kilograms overweight could have contributed to his heart attack. 

Cardiac rehabilitation program co-ordinator Kathy McCann said the eight-week program was about educating those about making healthy lifestyle changes. 

“We have 30 in each session and there are a real spread of ages,” Ms McCann said. 

“Our youngest is 35 and oldest is 85.”

Topics covered in the education sessions include advice on medication, diet, stress management and emotional coping strategies after surviving a heart attack. 

“During Heart Week we want people to get to know the warning signs of a heart attack,” Ms McCann said. 

“We want people to get checked out.” 

Mr Dunne agreed. 

“I’ve been pushing (the cause) at work and to others in the family,” he said.

“I guess you only get one chance at life.”

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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