A County Wexford woman who survived a heart attack scare is urging people to look after themselves by living a healthy lifestyle ahead of Happy Heart weekend which raises vital funding for the Irish Heart Foundation.
Ann Somers, from The Bungalows, New Ross, suffered a heart attack at her home in 1996.
Ms Somers, 65, said: 'I had pains up my neck. I never associated neck pain with heart problems. I went to the doctor and they sent me to hospital and when I went home I suffered a heart attack.'
Ms Somers said many women suffer neck pains and pain in their jaw prior to having heart attacks.
Thanksfully Ms Somers recovered from her condition and had stents put in in 2002.
'The hospital staff in Wexford and at St Vincent's were fantastic, as was the after service from Heart Watch. Once you are in the system is brilliant. The scare led me to give up smoking. I used to smoke 20 a day ever since I was in my teens and I gave them up in 1996.'
The mother-of-four said: 'Thank God I'm in good form. I was one of the lucky ones.'
She has been the New Ross Happy Hearts organiser since 1997, ensuring that helpers are out in force to raise money for the Irish Heart Foundation.
There will be collections at SuperValu and Centra shops across the county and on the street from Thursday to Saturday.
More people in Ireland die from heart disease and stroke than any other cause of death and in Wexford 377 lives are lost to the disease annually.
But the Irish Heart Foundation says many of these deaths can be prevented.
Every day in Ireland 27 lives are lost to the disease and almost 300 new cases are diagnosed daily in this country.
By eliminating risk factors such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking, the Irish Heart Foundation says 80 percent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable.
The iconic Happy Heart badges are on sale for €2 on the street by Wexford volunteers. The public is also encouraged to text Happy to 50300 to donate €4 to the appeal.