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Heart attack a 'wake-up call' for Maria

Maria Goodchild’s life was turned upside when she suffered a heart attack in the middle of the night. Now she fears another could strike at any time.

ASB3194 THRF Photographer Andrew Beveridge HI 032

A year ago, Maria Goodchild’s life was turned upside down when she suffered a heart attack in the middle of the night, despite showing no traditional symptoms. 

Maria was rushed to hospital where she underwent an emergency triple bypass, but three hours after the surgery was over, she went back under the knife after her valves burst. 

Maria said her heart attack was a ‘wake-up call’. 

“I don’t have as much time on earth as I thought,” she said. 

“You live your life and then out of the blue, something like this hits you and you place your life in the hands of complete and utter strangers. You just hope they have the skills and equipment to keep you alive.”

Maria is thankful for the team of nurses, surgeons and cardiologists at the Royal Adelaide Hospital who saved her life with the emergency procedure. Now, she is living with the impact of heart disease on her daily life. 

Since her heart surgery, Maria has had ongoing issues with her lungs and needs to have fluid drained every few months. This happens because her heart opens in stages, resulting in blood seeping out and not pumping back in correctly. 

Maria’s cardiologist thinks she may be managing uncomfortable side effects for the rest of her life. 

And she lives in fear that another heart attack could strike at any time, but thanks to your donations last Christmas, researchers are a step closer to making that a thing of the past. 

Your donations have helped Australian Heart Research fund projects like that of Dr Mergen Ghayesh, who hopes to save lives by better predicting patients at risk of a second heart attack. 

Dr Mergen Ghayesh

One in five patients who have had a heart attack will be readmitted to hospital for a secondary heart attack within five years of their first. 

Dr Ghayesh has teamed up with cardiologist Associate Professor Peter Psaltis to develop more targeted approaches to better predict plaque growth and how this can lead to secondary heart attacks. 

“Plaque growth can lead to a rupture and cause an acute heart attack by blocking the blood flow to the heart muscle,” he said.  

“Patients will then have to receive medical interventions for progressive plaque buildup such as angioplasty to open narrowed arteries or bypass surgery to create a new route for blood flow. The consequence of this can be fatal, with a mortality rate as high as 12 per cent. 

“Understanding plaque growth enables clinicians to manage the progression of coronary artery disease, facilitating timely interventions and tailoring treatment strategies.”  

These developments could potentially be lifesaving for people like Maria, and it’s all thanks to our generous donors.