Learn to listen to your heart!

English: Coronary circulation, with coronary a...

English: Coronary circulation, with coronary arteries labeled in red text and other landmarks in blue text. This vector graphics image was originally created with Adobe Illustrator, and modified with Inkscape. 32px|alt=W3C|link=http://validator.w3.org/✓ The source code of this SVG is valid. Category:Valid SVG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wayne’s Story

Mrs Pop-Star’s cousin Wayne was a family favourite. Like many Aussie blokes he was chatty, easy-going, and genial. His physical presence was imposing; tall and a little overweight, like his father. He enjoyed a beer, but did not drink to excess, nor did he smoke.

It was surprising perhaps, but despite having girl-friends over the years, he had never married. He lived in a bachelor pad at prestigious seaside resort suburb Glenelg, working as a printer at Adelaide’s Griffin Press, before a career change to an Insurance salesperson.

When his father died, he shifted back to live with his adoring mother Dawn, to keep her company in the spacious family home. “Wayney” as Dawn like to call him, was 39, and provided her with the company and support she needed.

It was a cool but sunny spring morning in early September 1990. Breakfast over she went outside into their leafy garden to tend the ferns in the shade-house, and under the canopy of stately mature trees.

When she was finished, she came inside to tidy the kitchen. Entering the hallway, to her horror, there sprawled on the floor in his bedroom doorway was the motionless form of her precious son. There had been no cry of pain that she had heard. Oh why had she been outside when he needed her! It all came without premonition or warning of which she was aware.  She was desolate. To lose a child is the most excruciatingly painful event that can befall any parent.

It was not until later that Gastrogel, and antacid tablets were found in the glove-box of his car, that we made sense of his recent medical appointment.

Don’t ignore symptoms such as chest pain, even if you are still young. 

Medicos then regarded Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD) also known as Coronary Artery Disease (CHD) as a condition to be considered in those who were over 40 years of age.

Reflux, and peptic ulcers of both the stomach and duodenum at that time were the commonest cause of pain in the chest and upper abdomen in patients under 40. This was in the days before Adelaide trained bacteriologist Robin Warren co-discovered that peptic ulcers, considered a surgical disease, were caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, and could be treated medically with antibiotics. For this discovery he received a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Not always does a heart attack present with agonizing chest pain. Such pain suggests a massive heart attack which could prove fatal.

Frequently before this the patient will have had symptoms that may not have been severe, indeed quite mild, and have perhaps been ignored. With CHD occurring increasingly in younger age groups, it is important that any unexplained chest pain is properly investigated. Remember too that CHD is a common cause of death in women, as well as in men.

This story illustrates how important it is to not ignore one’s symptoms and to seek prompt treatment, particularly now that there are so many interventions available to clear the blockages. Hopefully some readers will take note and visit the website for the Heart Foundation, to become familiar with the symptoms, prevention and management of Coronary Artery Disease.


A little information about the Coronary Arteries

There are two coronary arteries, right and left, that lie on the surface of the heart, sending branches deeply into the heart muscle. Although the four heart chambers are full of blood to be pumped to the rest of the body, none of this is available to nourish the muscle of the heart itself. Instead, these two arteries arise where the main artery, the aorta, starts at the outlet of the left ventricle.

For superb illustrations of coronary artery anatomy please click on the link:


There is little overlap of the circulation between the two arteries.  Blockage occurs when atheroma deposits of cholesterol form in the artery wall, distorting blood flow, and initiating the formation of blood clots. The heart muscle, starved of blood will die and be replaced with scar tissue that weakens the pumping action of the heart.