Janelle's story

Heart disease tears families apart
Janelle's family has a history of heart disease. Here, she shares her story with the Heart Research Institute. 

"My name is Janelle and I am 34. I became an HRI supporter or a ‘Hero of the Heart’ in 2012. At the time I didn’t know much about The Heart Research Institute but was eager to find out more as my family has a real history with heart disease.

When I discovered what the Institute does, I knew straight away that I wanted to be a supporter and help in any way I could.

My father, who is now 70, first suffered from angina when he was 35.  It was decided that he needed to undergo Holter monitor testing, which showed that during the day he had no symptoms… but when at rest, his heart went berserk. Subsequent to the testing he was treated with medication for a heart condition.

My father’s fight with heart disease is one matter… but even more devastating is the fact that my mother died from a heart attack in 2003.  My mother had developed severe headaches over a period of time and after visiting more than half a dozen doctors, none could figure out what was wrong with her. She was slimly built and had a low level of ‘the bad’ cholesterol.

Investigations were directed towards possible growths/tumors or injuries she may have sustained and she underwent head scans.  No-one ever gave much thought to the possibility that her heart was the problem as she didn’t fit the stereotype for heart disease. The possibility was discounted and never investigated.

My mother passed away from a massive heart attack

To see the difference early detection and timely treatment could have made, Janelle only needs to look at her dad. Surgical options created by research have given him many wonderful years he’d never have had otherwise. Janelle’s dad, now 70, received his first stent at age 43. Then at age 58 – after a second heart attack following his wife’s death – he had four new stents inserted.

But having two parents with young onset heart disease means Janelle and her siblings are at high risk – and there are children too. Janelle’s eldest brother had a heart attack when he was just 35. He has since had quadruple bypass surgery."