Heart group offers support, information and encouragement

Members of the Maryborough Heart Support Group.
Members of the Maryborough Heart Support Group. Robyne Cuerel

THE 'six-week syndrome' played a major role in the formation of The Australian Cardiac Association, now known as Heart Support Australia.

In the 1970s, patients returning home after a heart attack or heart surgery received a document advising when they could return to driving a car, to work and resume sexual activities.

The additional personal trauma cardiac sufferers experienced during this period remained unrecognised and unfortunately, there were no hints on how to cope if you lived alone, how to handle short-term memory loss, post-surgical depression or emotional disturbances.

Also lacking was the infrastructure to provide community support, information and encouragement.

Support, information and encouragement would later become Heart Support Australia's motto.

In 1987, Maryborough's Frank Kahler had heart bypass surgery in Brisbane.

On returning home, he felt the need for support and encouragement, so he contacted the Brisbane branch of the Australian Cardiac Association.

He rallied people he knew, who had heart surgery and they formed the Maryborough branch.

Charter member Henry Logan said Frank Kahler made a big difference in the lives of heart patients.

"There was no support when I had heart surgery in 1986, so we had to battle on our own. One good thing that came out of the meeting was that we had people, who trained to be counsellors," Henry said.

Marje Byrne's husband had heart surgery and she said it meant a change in lifestyle.

"We were guided by the doctors, and had to look at diet and exercise and spend time reading labels to see the sugar and salt content in foods," Marje said.

"Coming to these support meetings is good because you don't feel alone, there's always someone to listen to you and you can share your stories. The social contact is necessary in getting the coping skills for recovery."

Five years ago, Edwyn Francis had a defective aortic valve that resulted in a quadruple bypass and mechanical valve. He had no history of heart disease and said he was surprised to find he had seven blockages.

"The only symptom I had was a burning throat. I was devastated. I was in the group before I went to rehab, and when the reality and depression set in, I rejoined and the support has been excellent," Edwyn said.

Twenty-five years on, the Maryborough group will celebrate its milestone anniversary on Tuesday, September 10 at the Carriers Arms Hotel Motel, Maryborough.

President Sandy Marment invited anyone in the region, who had heart surgery to attend the dinner.

Phone Sandy on 4121 3532.

Topics:  anniversary maryborough senior matters sue downey

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