I am
Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track.

Key takeaways

Cyril Hennequin, 60, from Melbourne, managed a successful recruitment business, and was an avid cyclist and father of two boys when he suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab was a very positive experience for him.

Cyril’s heart story 

“I thought I had indigestion… my wife, Marieanne, and I had some takeaway food that evening and I woke up at midnight with mild chest pain. The discomfort was similar to indigestion and I rated it as four out of ten. I assumed it was indigestion from the food I ate earlier, but the chest pain continued to slowly increase. My wife made me some herbal tea, but it didn’t help. So I took a gastric reflux pill, as it usually fixes everything, and went back to bed. 

I still couldn’t get relief, so my wife jumped on her iPad and googled ‘chest pain’. The Heart Foundation website popped up, where she read about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. I was in denial and continued to protest that it was just indigestion. 

Through some previous work I’d done, I suggested Marieanne ring Nurse on Call. After she told the nurse “middle-aged man, chest pain”, they put me on the call to describe what I was feeling. The nurse told me I could be having a heart attack and suggested I go to hospital.  

I felt that gave me permission to go to hospital.  

We went down the road to the Alfred Hospital where they admitted me. They put all the gear on me and talked about my high heart rate. It was sitting on 220. They said, “You’re having a heart attack, but this is the best place to have it.” 

I was looked after very promptly. I remember thinking “Boy, I’m not even 60 and I’m gonna have a heart attack, I may not make it.” After prepping me for an operation, an hour and a half later, I was back in the ward with a stent inserted in the right side of my heart. 

Well it was a shock, it was a shock for my two boys, seeing me all plugged and wired up in hospital. My wife, Marieanne, she was the rock. I was healthy, I was fit, I never thought a heart attack could happen to me.  

I spent four days in hospital and while there, got some literature about heart disease and cardiac rehabilitation. I was determined to get back to the level of activity I was doing prior to my heart attack, so I signed up to attend a six-week rehab course in Caulfield.  

Heart attacks don’t discriminate – women, men, even a young fit guy who was 35 – was in my rehab group. Having a heart attack was my ‘wakeup call’ – you realise you’re not invincible. 

Cardiac rehab was a very positive experience for me. We had a physio supervising our cardio and weight activities. A cardiologist talked about understanding heart disease and what it was all about. We had a pharmacist speak about managing medications and side effects. And a dietitian who talked about healthy eating – how to reduce salt, sugar, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and read food labels.  

It also covered the psychological aspect of recovery – because you will experience feelings and emotions that are quite unique. You might get a little bit angry with yourself – ‘maybe I should have done this or that.’ Rehab helps normalise your experience and emotions – I found it most helpful and you leave the program feeling quite informed. 

I always say, “you’re the CEO in charge of your own body”, you need to take control. Cardiac rehab provided me with the structure to get back to the activities I used to do. I was very focussed. Even before I finished rehab, I had signed up for a 5 km charity run.

Two months after my heart attack, I ran and walked the 5 km course in the Run Melbourne marathon. Four months later, I had the confidence to cycle a half Around the Bay in a Day. I exercise with a Fitbit to monitor my heart rate and try to keep it below a certain level. 

I met a great group of people at cardiac rehab. We regularly catch up on the last Sunday of every month to go for a walk around the ‘Tan’ (Melbourne Botanical Gardens) and grab a coffee. It’s a very Melbourne activity! We spend the first 10 or 15 minutes talking about how we’re going and then we just talk about life – the social aspect is very good.”  

Cyril’s one piece of advice 

“I feel cardiac rehab changed my life. It’s the best investment you could make – for yourself and your family.”

Discover more heart stories

You might also be interested in

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

Running has been an important part of Boyd's life, so imagine his shock when a heart condition he had never heard of threatened to put a stop to it. ...

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height?...

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your cholesterol and triglyceride levels....

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Exercising for heart and soul

Exercising for heart and soul

Exercising for heart and soul

Alicia Philipatos was three days old when her heart condition was diagnosed...

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Understand blood pressure and how it can impact your heart health....

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

I’d always thought of myself as fairly fit; I swam a lot, and did ‘soft running’, a combination of running and walking. ...

Quit smoking action plan

Quit smoking action plan

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Professor Mark Parsons, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Donation receipts

Donation receipts

Donation receipts

Due to end of financial year and the ongoing lockdowns in several states, we are currently experiencing some delays in processing and receipting of donations....

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL TRIALS ...

How your heart works

How your heart works

How your heart works

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood to all parts of your body. The blood gives your body the oxygen and nourishment it needs to work properly. ...

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Statistics and information on heart attack in Australia...

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Find heart healthy dessert recipes....

Food and healthy eating during COVID-19

Food and healthy eating during COVID-19

Food and healthy eating during COVID-19

Healthy eating and COVID-19 FAQ...

WEBINAR | Lipids in the limelight: clinical update on screening and management

WEBINAR | Lipids in the limelight: clinical update on screening and management

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

You may be surprised to know that on average, adults sit for nine hours a day....

Q&A with Dr Jessica Orchard

Q&A with Dr Jessica Orchard

Q&A with Dr Jessica Orchard

Cardiac screening of athletes: disparities and differences in electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation criteria in under-represented populations...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Resources to help people follow a heart healthy eating pattern in their daily lives. ...

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in South Australia

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in South Australia

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in South Australia

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Working together to save Australian hearts...

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart health information and resources

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart health information and resources

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart health information and resources

Heart disease can occur 10 to 20 years earlier among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and can lead to long-term health problems. ...

Taking your heart medicines

Taking your heart medicines

Taking your heart medicines

Know what your heart medicines are for and how to take them. ...