‘I got it into my head I was going to die,’ says Scottish woman, 37, who had heart attack

A mother of one has described fearing she would die after suffering a heart attack aged 37 during the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown.

Lee Anne Porteous had a heart attack in May.
Lee Anne Porteous had a heart attack in May.

Lee Anne Porteous, from Glasgow believed she was fit and healthy before she started feeling unwell while on a dog walk in May last year.

The Barclays bank worker said she had no idea what was happening when her mouth area began hurting, and thought she was suffering from “toothache”.

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“I started getting jaw pain but I didn’t think much of it. I thought I might need to go to the dentist but we’d just gone into lockdown,” Ms Porteous said.

“I was feeling pretty lousy so I thought I’d have an early night. Then I woke up about 1am and the pain from my mouth had actually spread into my chest.

“I felt sick and my stomach was hurting. I felt clammy and then I got pins and needles down my arm.

“Eventually I got my husband to call NHS 24 for some advice and as soon as I told the lady my symptoms she said she was going to get an ambulance.”

Paramedics arrived at the home and said she was having a heart attack.

She was rushed to the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank where she underwent emergency surgery to fit a stent in her blocked artery.

Ms Porteous said: “It was quite a shock. But at that time, I just felt numb.

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“It was probably after a couple of weeks that it hit me. I got it into my head I was going to die. And I started worrying about my wee girl, about whether she was going to be affected when she’s older.”

She added: “I’m a lot more positive about it now. I just want to do what I can to look after myself and enjoy my life to the best I can.”

Doctors do not know exactly what caused the cardiac episode, particularly given Ms Porteous had none of the “risk factors” associated with heart attacks such as smoking and obesity.

Ms Porteous said: “I’ll never know exactly why it happened. That’s why I want people to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack. Because you can be young like me and have none of the risk factors, think you’re fit and healthy and you can still have one.”

When the British Heart Foundation (BHF) was founded in 1961, seven out of 10 heart attacks were fatal.

Now the charity claims at least seven out of 10 people survive.

Sir Rory Collins, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Oxford, who was part of a groundbreaking team that discovered the use of aspirin and then statins to treat heart disease, said: “People don’t recall what it was like then back in the 80s when someone was admitted into a coronary care unit and all they were given was pain relief and watched.

“It’s extraordinary how much things have changed in the last 30 or 40 years. And much of that advancement, including into genetic disorders, has been funded by the BHF.”


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