Friday 15 November 2019

'I'm just grateful to be alive after massive heart attack and I'll never smoke a cigarette again'

Christine McGrath, Ballymun, heart attack survivor
Christine McGrath, Ballymun, heart attack survivor

Alan O'Keeffe

A Dublin woman who survived a massive heart attack has spoken of how she will never smoke another cigarette.

"I'm just enjoying being alive now and want to say a big thank you to those who helped," said Christine McGrath.

The 51-year-old spoke out to encourage people to buy Happy Heart Appeal badges today.

Christine felt a pain in her chest and left arm last May but was not alarmed as her elderly mother suggested it was "just wind".

The pain subsided but returned during the night, before subsiding again.

"I still didn't think about the possibility of a heart attack," said Christine, who worked as a taxi driver.

The pain returned the next day as Christine walked from her home at Gateway View in Ballymun to visit her local GP.

"I took a massive pain in my chest and asked a friend to call an ambulance. I leaned against a wall until the ambulance came," she said.

Making a splash for heart and stroke Model volunteers Johanna and Fionnuala urged the public buy a happy heart badge for 2.00.euro as they brave the wet conditions forcasted for the weekend supporting the Irish Heart Foundation's 26th Happy Heart Appeal

She was rushed to the Mater Hospital where she underwent tests and was told she had probably had a 'silent' heart attack.

Another bout of chest pain hit her and she was allocated a hospital bed. It was the next morning, while hooked up to wires in her hospital bed, when she suffered a major heart attack.

"While talking to my sister Maureen, I had a massive dizzy spell and felt really sick and sweaty. Then I took another massive pain in the chest and arm," she said.

Nurses and doctors immediately began working on her as she heard worried voices saying they were "losing" her.

She was rushed to an operating theatre where teams worked on her. She heard a doctor say "I've cleared it". She was told later that a piece of plaque had become detached from the inner walls of an artery and it blocked the blood flow to her heart. She later had four stents inserted to keep the arteries open.

"I smoked seven or eight cigarettes a day, but I never put a cigarette in my mouth again," she said.

She had always been active and was not overweight but she had high cholesterol.


A build-up of fatty deposits in arteries to the heart can cause a heart attack or, if in arteries to the brain, can cause a stroke.

Stopping smoking, increasing exercise, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and regular check-ups are advised.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me. The staff at the Mater's rehab clinic in Eccles Street are absolutely fabulous," Maureen said.

The Irish Heart Foundation are selling Happy Heart badges today and tomorrow. Donations of €4 can also be made by texting *Happy to 50300


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