Heart Attack survivor Carol Jones with grandsons Keanan Patron, 5, Samuel Patron, 8, and daughter Elizabeth Patron walk together after school. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
As a nurse, she should have known better, but when Carol Jones felt the pain in her chest last September, she chose to ignore it.
''I had a suspicion about what was going on and I thought: 'Will I call an ambulance? No, I'll lie down and hope that it goes away.' Stupid I know,'' Ms Jones said.
''I just went into denial because it was me. I put my patients, my family first before I looked after my own health and that's what a lot of women do.''
Ms Jones has spoken out about her experience to help support a Heart Foundation campaign to encourage women to improve their cardiac health and to dispel the myth that women are unlikely to suffer heart attacks.
Ms Jones will be part of a panel on women's heart health at the Canberra Hospital today to launch the Heart Foundation's Healthy Heart Challenge.
Heart disease is the biggest killer of Australian women and 90 per cent of Australian women have at least one risk factor for the disease.
A few weeks after her initial cardiac event, Ms Jones was still experiencing discomfort in her chest and went to a GP who organised an appointment with a cardiologist.
But as she drove to work at the Canberra Hospital, Ms Jones felt classic heart attack symptoms: pressure on her chest, pain in her neck and tingling in her left arm.
''I parked the car, walked into the hospital and by the time I got to emergency I was short of breath, I could hardly talk and I was actually grasping at my chest.''
One of Ms Jones' arteries was 90 per cent blocked but a stent helped save her life.
Ms Jones has several risk factors for heart disease, including a family history of the condition, being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and being a former smoker.
''I'm managing all my risk factors now,'' she said. Ms Jones said her experience had encouraged her only daughter, Elizabeth, to continue leading a healthy lifestyle.
Information on the Healthy Heart Challenge: www.goredforwomen.org.au