ABC Radio Brisbane Evenings host Kelly Higgins-Devine could have ignored the warning as she felt a slight chest pain as she walked.
“My heart rate would start to rise and I would start to feel short of breath and I would get a little pain in my chest,” Higgins-Devine said.
She said she was lucky to have had it.
“A lot of people do not notice that something is wrong,” she said.
Higgins-Devine visited his GP and was quickly scheduled for more tests.
Echocardiograms, a stress test and an angiogram showed that two of her arteries were running out of time.
“They came back and said ‘you have two arteries, one that’s blocked by 90 percent and one that’s blocked by 70 percent, and that’s not good,'” she said.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading killer in Australia, affecting more than 4 million people and causing one in four deaths, according to Heart Foundation statistics.
On average, 118 Australians die of cardiovascular disease – the umbrella term for heart disease – a day.
The foundation said women were less likely to realize they had a problem until a later stage in their illness and were less likely to seek help quickly.
Higgins-Devine said her own family history of severe heart disease, plus knowledge that she had complicating factors, including an existing diabetes diagnosis, meant she knew she had to take even the slightest symptom seriously.
“I was talking to a couple of people who were having surgery … we just decided that as soon as you have it, you’re instantly better.”
But she said a double bypass operation was a mammoth and “horrific” operation.
“[Surgeons] know what they’re doing, but the idea that things can go wrong – it’s a bit related to you, “she said.
Much better now
Her left forearm artery was used to replace the two damaged coronary arteries in a successful operation that is already yielding.
Higgins-Devine said she was already feeling better and expecting everything to be fine, she would have another 30 years with her revived heart.
She said anyone who experienced even mild symptoms should talk to their doctor.
“Heart disease is the biggest killer in Australia, but if you do something, if you can actually get those warning signs, you’ll be fine if you check it out,” she said.
“Do not ignore it.”
Higgins-Devine is expected to return to ABC Radio Brisbane Evenings later this year.