A retired nurse from Ballymoney is telling her story in an effort to warn people against being complacent about the warning signs of heart attack.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is warning that fast action is crucial and has launched its STOP campaign in an effort to save lives. S - Something’s not right – symptoms can start slowly. T - Tightness or pain in the chest, pain in the arm, neck or jaw. O - Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or sweating. P - Phone 999 immediately – the ambulance crew will do an ECG.
Retired auxiliary nurse, Joyce McBride, had a heart attack in 2002 when she was 61 years old. She had experienced occasional chest pains for a number of months but had assumed it was a return of a previous chest infection.
Joyce said, “On the day of my heart attack, I went into Ballymoney to do some messages. I had terrible chest pains. The pains were so bad that I could hardly walk to my car. I was short of breath and sweating.”
Despite feeling unwell she drove to Coleraine to pick up her grand-daughter from primary school. Joyce continued, “I was rocking backwards and forwards with the pain and sweating heavily. I got out of the car and sat on the low wall in front of the school. When my grand-daughter came out, I told her to get in the car and stay there. Then I phoned my daughter who is a nurse. Thankfully she answered immediately and I shouted - I’m having a heart attack. You need to come here and take me to the hospital straight away.”
As an auxiliary nurse, Joyce knew that she was having a heart attack and really needed to phone 999 but as a doting grandmother, she didn’t want to frighten her granddaughter with an ambulance. Joyce knows that this was a risky decision but she was lucky – her daughter arrived quickly to take her to the Causeway Hospital and after treatment there and at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Joyce was able to return home. Since then she has worked with the Causeway Cardiac Support Network to support other heart attack survivors and promote health messages.
Information on the symptoms of heart attack can be found on the NICHS web site www.nichs.org.uk/stop.