Coronary heart disease is still killing more Australians than any other disease and in the time of COVID-19, taking care of your heart is more important than ever before.
People with cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 and going on to develop severe forms of the virus which can have detrimental outcomes to health, so this World Heart Day the Flying Doctor is encouraging Australians to listen to their heart.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Randall Greenberg encourages people to follow the local government's COVID-19 advice to keep safe but not to avoid their heart health check-ups. Dr Greenberg also reminds people to look after their heart health by eating a healthy diet, exercising and abstaining from smoking cigarettes.
"Please get regular medical check-ups on your heart health. If something doesn't feel right and you are worried about your heart, make an appointment to see your GP and in emergencies call triple 000 - that's what emergency services like the Flying Doctor are here for," Dr Greenberg said.
"We are living in unprecedented times and don't know the future of the pandemic, but we do know that taking care of our hearts is more important than ever, particularly for those with heart conditions."
Dubbo man John Gibson knows the importance of listening to your heart when it doesn't feel right. It was 2am and John was feeling unwell. He had been sent home from work earlier that day but couldn't work out what was wrong.
"I said to my wife that I just wasn't feeling well, and I wasn't sure what was happening. I just felt off. I had the feeling that someone was just constantly pressing in between my shoulder blades in the middle of my back," John said.
John had tried to stand up from his chair to go to the kitchen, but he fell forward onto his knees and to the ground.
After a night at Dubbo Base hospital, John still wasn't feeling better. "The nurse came out and asked me if I was ok. I just looked at her and I said, "I think I'm going to..." and I blacked out," John said.
The doctors ran some tests and found that John had a 99 per cent blockage on the left-hand side of his heart and a 95pc blockage on the right.
For John, every moment was critical. The Royal Flying Doctor Service was alerted, and John was airlifted from Dubbo to Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he was operated on and two stents were put in his heart.
"I am so grateful the Royal Flying Doctor Service was able to get me to Sydney in time and get me the help I needed. I encourage everyone to stay on top of their heart health, I thankfully now have a new lease on life," John said.