I am
Show me:
Show me:
Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

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.

Gerry knows how lucky he is. If his heart attack had happened just two days earlier, on the flight home from London, he might not have survived. Now he’s eating better, exercising more and telling everyone he knows to have a heart health check. 

Gerry Cappeluti, 55, lives in Perth and until recently was a bio-security adviser and travelled extensively for work. He and his wife Anna – who he calls “his rock” – have two adult children, Matthew and Nicole.  

Gerry’s heart story 

“My son Matthew, who’s 26, and I love sport and got into Formula One car racing after watching it on television. In 2017 we started saving for a holiday of a lifetime to Europe, with the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo the highlight. 

The trip was a year in the planning, and it didn’t disappoint. I’d never done anything like it before and we weren’t going to waste a minute. I was walking 10 to 15 kilometres a day exploring big cities like London, so it was no huge surprise that by the end of every day I was exhausted. 

I’d always thought of myself as fairly fit; I swam a lot, and did ‘soft running’, a combination of running and walking. But this fatigue was on another level. We hired a car and some days Matthew was worried that I’d fall asleep at the wheel I was so tired. 

And the food! I was grabbing snacks on the go, trying all sorts of exotic dishes and loading up on French pastries. We visited uncles and aunties in the Italian countryside, eating and drinking and seeing a side of the country that many never experience. So again, it was hardly surprising that I was getting this tight feeling in my chest that I put down to indigestion from over-indulging. 

Maybe I should have read more into the warning I got from a pharmacist in London when I was buying indigestion medication: he told me I should see a doctor about my ongoing ‘indigestion’ when I got back to Perth. I was fit, I was only 54 and I had recently started on medication for elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, more of a precaution, I thought, than because of a serious problem. It didn’t occur to me for a second that there could be something wrong with my heart. 
You see someone in a movie having a heart attack and they grab their chest ... well, it was nothing like that.
Watching Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo win the Monaco Grand Prix was awesome, one of the best sporting moments in our lives. We both felt an incredible mix of joy and pride in hearing the national anthem as he cracked open the champagne on the podium. 

I’d been back in Perth for a couple of days and went to visit my sister for dinner and to tell her about the trip. We were talking and laughing when the strangest thing happened – the fingers on my left hand locked. It was as if they were frozen. It was so odd, we even joked about it.  

But then I felt a cramp and sudden heavy ache in my left arm, and it wasn’t funny anymore. Both my wife Anna and my sister thought it might be a heart attack and insisted on calling an ambulance. 

At the hospital, my ECG was fine, but my blood test was another story. Someone told me "You are having a heart attack. Now". I was in absolute shock. I couldn’t believe it. You see someone in a movie having a heart attack and they grab their chest ... well, it was nothing like that. I kept asking, “Are you sure?” I was in denial all the way. 

They rushed me into the Cath lab and inserted a stent to open my artery: my LAD (left anterior descending artery) had an 85 per cent blockage, and another a 50 per cent blockage that they decided to monitor for now. The stent probably saved my life. 

Now, of course, I look back and see all the classic signs. The fatigue. Some chest pain. A feeling like indigestion, but that wasn’t really indigestion. I was too stubborn to see the signs, but they were all there. I was actually having heart problems all the time we were overseas but was determined not to spoil it for my son. Yes, I know. It was stupid of me. 

After I got out of hospital, I started exercising slowly, walking our Jack Russells Pepe and Rocky, building up to much more exercise. I’m taking it seriously, hitting the treadmill four or five times a week for about 45 minutes. 

My wife and kids were fantastic, helping me out and encouraging me: “don’t eat this”, “do that”. I’ve lost some weight and although I thought my diet was pretty good before my heart attack, it’s even better now with more veg and fish. 
It’s my mission to educate all my family and friends about heart disease.
One friend I spoke to – like me, he was pretty fit, ate well and was only 56 – saw a doctor and he was quite shocked to find himself in hospital, assessed as a high risk of having a heart attack and in need of medication.  

Having a heart attack really puts things into perspective and I tell everyone: go and get the tests done.” 

Gerry’s one piece of advice  

Make sure you have a full medical check-up with your GP and make yourself aware of heart disease and heart attack symptoms (fatigue, chest pain, sweating). There could be nothing worse than having heart trouble in a foreign country away from your loved ones. 


Discover more heart stories  

You might also be interested in

At the heart of Mother’s Day

At the heart of Mother’s Day

At the heart of Mother’s Day

Three people living with heart disease share how their Mums helped them face their health challenges....

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

The Heart Foundation has designed a series of emails to help people who've had heart attacks (and their loved ones) through their recovery....

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

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

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. ...

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. ...

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

There are a number of medications you could be prescribed after a heart attack....

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

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. ...

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

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. ...

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Dan was six minutes into his treadmill session when his heart stopped beating....

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David's heart failure diagnosis led to significant changes in his life....

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Explore some useful things to know about intimacy after a heart attack....

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

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

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

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...

Gary's heart story

Gary's heart story

Gary's heart story

Gary's heart attack came without warning....

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. ...

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

David reflects on how his life changed when he had a heart attack at 35 and how he got back on track....

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

It wasn’t until Helen's second heart attack that she realised the importance of exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet....

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

I’m a mum and I survived a heart attack

I’m a mum and I survived a heart attack

I’m a mum and I survived a heart attack

Nicola, mum of 2, shares her heart attack recovery story....

Help others in need through a gift in your Will

Help others in need through a gift in your Will

Help others in need through a gift in your Will

Ian “did not hesitate” to leave 100% of his estate to the Heart Foundation....

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

Open heart surgery to treat damaged heart valves has improved Jan's overall health....

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Joanne had five stents inserted into her heart in her early forties. Fifteen years later she had a triple bypass....

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Kate wanted to find a way she could make a difference to future generations...

Learning that heart disease can strike at any age

Learning that heart disease can strike at any age

Learning that heart disease can strike at any age

Living life on my terms as a young adult with heart disease

Living life on my terms as a young adult with heart disease

Living life on my terms as a young adult with heart disease

Lea was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at 24. She shares her story of recovery....

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Today, Cupid is busy slinging arrows. Perhaps, you are frantic buying flowers or chocolates, booking dinner or penning a pitter-patter inducing poem....

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret was young, fit and otherwise healthy but suffered a major heart attack that could have devastated her life...

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

At first, it didn’t cross my mind it could be something serious. ...

My role as a cardiac nurse

My role as a cardiac nurse

My role as a cardiac nurse

Michelle shares her experiences working as a cardiac nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital....

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm didn’t worry too much about his cholesterol problem – until an angiogram revealed he had an 80 per cent blockage in a major heart artery. ...

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter has lived with a rare heart condition since he was 14, but hadn’t given it too much thought until his 30s....

Peter's heart story

Peter's heart story

Peter's heart story

After his heart attack Peter felt incredibly demoralised....

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day; some people celebrate, other’s vehemently oppose it. Whatever your opinion, it’s important to remember that the day is about love. All forms of it....

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy, Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack. However, after experiencing a ‘widow maker’, she counts herself lucky....

Three young people living with heart disease share how they are dealing with COVID-19

Three young people living with heart disease share how they are dealing with COVID-19

Three young people living with heart disease share how they are dealing with COVID-19

Rachel, Angela and Lea are all young and living with heart conditions. ...

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Savannah and Gerry, two Australians living with heart disease share their COVID-19 stories....

Warren's heart story

Warren's heart story

Warren's heart story

Warren suffered a heart attack while on a skiing holiday in Thredbo....

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

Emotional wellbeing is like having a garden, sometimes it grows green on its own, other times it needs watering, cutting back or fertilising....

Women's heart stories

Women's heart stories

Women's heart stories

Women's stories from around Australia...

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. ...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

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.  ...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

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

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. ...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

After having five open heart surgeries between the ages of 13 and 41, Peter knows a thing or two about recovery....

Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Alliance

Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Alliance

Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Alliance

WACRA are the peak leadership body in Western Australian advancing research into heart, stroke and vascular disease to accelerate translation and improve health outcomes....

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

With spring sprung, now is the time to get back to heart-healthy eating. ...

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

There are a number of medications you could be prescribed after a heart attack....

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Advice from young people living with a heart condition....

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

Join our volunteers and make a difference to the heart health of Australians....

General Practitioner Survey 2020

General Practitioner Survey 2020

This survey has been designed to collect feedback from general practitioners about their awareness and use of Heart Foundation materials....

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

How to boost your fruit and vegetable intake to help protect your heart. ...

Exercises to do at home

Exercises to do at home

Exercises to do at home

All you need to know about keeping active during COVID-19....

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Would you like to improve the cardiovascular health of your patients?...

Cardiac rehabilitation information for health professionals

Cardiac rehabilitation information for health professionals

Useful cardiac rehabilitation resources for health professionals....

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

Open heart surgery to treat damaged heart valves has improved Jan's overall health....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition. ...

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....

Clinical resources: Coronary heart disease and mental health

Clinical resources: Coronary heart disease and mental health

The prevalence of depression is high in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Training to support identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, in line with standard practice....

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Resources to help you create a more physically active workplace....

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have....

Our history

Our history

Our history

For more than 60 years the Heart Foundation has been helping improve heart health across the nation....