I am
Debbie's heart story
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since.

After her heart attack, Debbie felt helpless and that there was no hope left for her. Hear Debbie’s story.




I'm Debbie and I’m recovering from double bypass surgery. At Christmas, I had something quite a stressful happen to me and I just went downhill and didn’t do very much exercise. Once I got out of that situation, I thought that’s it, I’m going to start exercising again.

Within three minutes of doing my walk, I started getting heartburn and I thought “Hmm what’s going on?”I kept walking and it kept doing it, so I sat down and rested and it went away. The next day I did the same thing and the same thing happened. Nothing seemed to make it any better. A couple of days later I was doing some shopping and I thought I’d better go to the Doctors and see if they could give me some stronger medication. The Doctor asked what my symptoms were and said that sounds like angina not indigestion.

I had an angiogram and they told me but I had a ninety percent blockage in my main artery and that I had days to live. The surgery took about six hours and it was awful, but it had to be done and it saved my life.
After the surgery, I went home and I found it really hard.  One day, I was rummaging through my drawers, getting my tablets out, and I found the Cardiac Rehabilitation flier and started flicking through it and I just thought “yeah why not,  I’ll give it a go.

At the time I was feeling really down and I just didn't feel that there was anywhere to go. So I rang the rehab centre and went there and I’ve never looked back.

I was on a high. I really was. For the first time after my heart attack, I felt like there was hope. Before I started I thought there was nothing. I just thought this is it, this is as good as it gets.

But I was wrong and rehab showed me that’s not as good as it gets. The psychologist that came in was awesome and he spoke to us about sleep and how we're feeling and I just learned so much from him.

They also had somebody come in and talk to us about how to get physical again, what to eat, what not to eat. They also talked about sex with your partners and getting on with it. It was so informative because the one thing my husband had read on the cardiac recovery sheet was after three weeks you can become sexually active again. But he went the opposite way where he didn't want to go near me as he didn't want to hurt me. So discussing all that in a really comfortable session really helped us.

Rehab has helped me so much and changed me so much. Without it I think I’d still be sitting at home crying and depressed thinking this is it, this is what I'm going to be doing the rest of my life. But that’s not the case. It's absolutely not the case.

Rehab helps you move on. It gives you hope and it makes you feel better. If you talk to other people who are going through the same thing as you, you don't feel so alienated.

I'm living until I'm 95 and I'm going to die with a smile on my face. I've always said that since I was little and now I mean it, I really mean it.

I recently asked my surgeon “Do you reckon I could live to 95?” and he said “Absolutely.”

Learn how cardiac rehabilitation can help you, or find a cardiac rehabilitation service online. You can also call the Heart Foundation Helpline 13 11 12 for help finding a service near you.

You might also be interested in

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....

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....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

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

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

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...

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

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. ...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Research Directory

Research Directory

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

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

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

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

Absolute CVD risk clinical guidelines

Absolute CVD risk clinical guidelines

The Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk (CVD) Guidelines helps healthcare professionals identify, prevent and manage a person's risk of developing CVD. ...

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

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

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

5 minutes
Serves 1

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....

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. ...

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

For professionals: Online education and training

For professionals: Online education and training

Online courses for health professionals focused on improving cardiovascular care. ...

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Thankfully for Grant Byrne, a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, some quick thinking helped him avoid a stairway to heaven. Read Grant’s heart attack story now. ...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

Finding her voice: Sophie Nester’s heart story

Finding her voice: Sophie Nester’s heart story

Sophie Nester was born with a heart condition and a form of spina bifida. She had three open heart surgeries before she turned five. Now 26, Sophie is a disability support worker in Bendigo, Victoria....

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

15 minutes
Serves 2

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

Should population-based CVD risk assessment models make way for individualised risk prediction techniques?...

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. ...

Overcoming uncertainty: Bianca Beetham’s heart story

Overcoming uncertainty: Bianca Beetham’s heart story

Overcoming uncertainty: Bianca Beetham’s heart story

Bianca Beetham is 24 years old and lives in Sydney. She is currently waiting for her first open-heart surgery after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy five years ago....

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

1 hour
Serves 6

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Understand how smoking can impact your heart health. ...

Asian (Chilli, soy and sesame) dressing

Asian (Chilli, soy and sesame) dressing

Asian (Chilli, soy and sesame) dressing

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Every day, 22 women lose their lives to this condition....

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Search our heart healthy dinner recipes for tonights main meal...