Joanne Ludlow was just 36 when she suffered a heart attack that went untreated for days after she, her family and a GP all failed to recognise the symptoms.
While she had type-1 diabetes, it had not been linked to a higher incidence of heart disease 14 years prior.
Ms Ludlow had woken up with nausea and a pain across her upper back on Mother’s Day 2003, but put it down to the fact she had been exerting herself at work the previous day. She felt unwell the entire day and the next morning.
“I woke up around 5.30 and felt more nauseous but had a shower. That is when the pain started getting really bad. I had the most horrendous pain in my chest,” she said.
She said it felt like “boulders were crashing into her ribs from the inside, from every direction”. Her sister, who she lived with, arranged for her parents to take her to a medical centre, but still no one suspected a heart attack.
By this time, Ms Ludlow also had a strange sensation down her left arm, but when she saw the doctor he said it was inflammation of the heart, prescribed painkillers and told her to go home and rest.
Two days later, she suffered the crushing pain again, tightness in her chest and pain down her left arm. This time she went to her regular GP, who suggested an ECG, which she had the same day.
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“She said ‘get to hospital straight away’. I had three blocked arteries and had open-heart surgery about three days later,” she said.
It took a year for Ms Ludlow to recover from the surgery. She was left with ongoing complications, including damage to the heart, which could have been avoided had she gone straight to hospital.