Sue’s Tragic Story

 In Patient Stories

In March 2011, my soul mate Karl died suddenly and alone at work from a heart attack. He was only 43 years young. I wish to share our sad story to demonstrate the importance of being ‘heart healthy’.

From the moment Karl and I met as children we had a special bond and knew we were soul mates. As teenagers we dated, but life moved in different directions when Karl joined the Australian Army. Whilst we created our own families and lived on separate sides of Australia, there was no contact for fifteen years. Karl never forgot me, and years later, when we were single; he located me through our school. We rekindled our love and created a new life with our four teenage daughters.

Karl was an active man; formerly serving in the SAS, an avid cyclist and a keen footballer. He was beaming with lively energy, wasn’t overweight and always remained fit. No one recognised Karl’s warning signs of heart disease, even though he experienced consistent chest pain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. His GP requested non-invasive testing, but nothing obvious emerged. Karl was advised that because of his young age, there was nothing wrong with his heart.

On the morning of Karl’s fatal heart attack, I knew something was terribly wrong. I tried frantically to contact him at work. After raising the alarm, a colleague found him collapsed. They attempted to unsuccessfully resuscitate him.

My beautiful man, soul mate and valentine had died!

It was later discovered that two of Karl’s coronary arteries had severe blockages, diagnosing him with ischemic coronary artery disease. The coroner’s report also revealed that Karl had sections of scar tissue on his heart, indicating two ‘silent’ heart attacks three months prior to the fatal one.

I only wish Karl had been treated in MonashHeart’s chest pain clinic; to have been given access to a cardiologist and to have had a cardiac CT …… he would still be here with us today. I urge you, if you have sudden severe chest pains call 000 and get to hospital as soon as you can by ambulance – it may save your life. If you are being treated by your local doctor for chest pain, ask for a referral to MonashHeart’s rapid assessment chest pain clinic and be seen by a cardiologist – it may save your life.

Sue Cummings

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