Wednesday 21 February 2018

'They told me I was having panic attacks' - Singer Mary Coughlan reveals how her heart condition was misdiagnosed

Mary Coughlan on the Ray D'Arcy Show
Mary Coughlan on the Ray D'Arcy Show
Family: Mary Coughlan with her daughter Clare Bonadio and grandson Felice Farrelly last year.

Sasha Brady

Legendary Irish singer Mary Coughlan took to the Ray D'Arcy Show on Saturday night to discuss her recent health scare.

Last September, the 60-year-old singer had stents placed in her heart just months after doctors misdiagnosed her heart condition as a panic attack.

Speaking to the Ray D'Arcy Show, Mary explained that when the symptoms of her heart condition first arose, she knew something was seriously wrong.

"I was afraid to go asleep at night because I could hear my heart beating so loud," she told the audience.

Family: Mary Coughlan with her daughter Clare Bonadio and grandson Felice Farrelly last year.
Family: Mary Coughlan with her daughter Clare Bonadio and grandson Felice Farrelly last year.

The singer was so worried about her health that she asked her daughter to set an alarm at night to make sure she was still alive, before seeking medical advice.

"My daughter Claire lives with me and one night I got so scared that I said 'will you call me every hour to make sure I'm not dead, set your alarm on your phone' and she did. It was horrible."

"I checked myself in to two hospitals - I won't say which ones - and went to my GP three times between May 23 and sometime in June and they told me I was having panic attacks. I don't really do panic attacks. I know what they are. I couldn't breathe."

Mary said her condition got so bad that she struggled with even light activities such as walking: "I used to go to the gym... but then I couldn't even walk."

Worried that her health issues were more sinister than a panic attack, the blues singer returned to the doctor but she was sent home with painkillers and told to "calm down".

"They gave me Solpadeine and tablets like Xanax, they gave me six of those and 60 Solpadeine for the pain in my chest and they told me to calm down and go home and take a rest," she said.

However, her condition worsened and when she returned to Dublin, she had another scare in the car park of Dundrum Shopping Centre.

"I couldn't make the 150 steps from the check out to my car and I started to cry really badly. I called GP and said you better go and see somebody."

Mary was then referred to a consultant in St Vincent’s hospital who diagnosed a serious heart condition.

"They kept me in because it was so bad. 99 percent blockage and 97 percent blockage in one artery and in my other artery I had a 60 and 40 percent blockage."

However, the singer said she's embracing life to the full since having her coronary stents fitted in September and is "flying" after completing a 20-date European tour in December.

And the spiritual-minded performer said she feels very lucky to be alive and feels that she has someone watching over her, keeping her safe.

"I always think there's someone looking after me, I really, really do," she said.

She explained the weekend she had her emergency operation she was supposed to be in the US on tour but after a last-minute issue, she stayed in Ireland.

"I had a tour of America booked and the promoter fecked off and left me high and dry. I would have been on the plane to America that weekend. But instead of that I was booked into Electric Picnic. So anything could have happened. I could have been a Carrie Fisher."

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