Laurieton resident Traci Moore says people need to educate themselves on heart health as they never know when they might be called on to assist in an emergency situation.
Traci's friend and former branch president of Heart Health NSW Port Macquarie-Hastings, Robert (Bob) Edwards suffered a cardiac arrest and permanent brain damage as a result of the incident.
"Cardiac disease is still the number one killer in Australia," she said.
Mr Edwards' family believes if he had gained access to a defibrillator sooner, it might have prevented his brain injuries.
Mr Edwards and his wife Lyn worked tirelessly over many years to help raise awareness and funds to support families through their involvement with Heart Health NSW.
According to the Heart Foundation, a cardiac arrest happens when a person's heart stops beating and their brain and vital organs are starved of oxygen.
A heart attack differs from cardiac arrest as it occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked.
"People need to know cardiac arrest can happen to anyone in the community and there's a misconception that it's only something which impacts the elderly," Traci said.
"I would like to see a lot more information out there for people to see."
Traci knows all too well what it's like to suffer from a serious heart condition, as she has undergone a double coronary artery bypass surgery.
She initially thought her symptoms of having occasional tightness in her chest and fatigue were due to stress.
"I urge people to see their doctor if they feel something isn't right," she said.
"The risk is higher for women who are post menopause, due to the lack of estrogen in our system, which makes us much more vulnerable."
All of the Heart Health NSW groups on the Mid North Coast have access to a defibrillator, in case an emergency unfolds at a planned walk.
The access to defibrillators was made possible thanks to donations by community groups.
Heart Health NSW was established as a non profit incorporated organisation to assist with the delivery of one on one support to those who have experienced a heart event and their carers.
Group members have raised funds for hospital needs in cardiac and physiotherapy areas and established exercise (walking) programs post rehabilitation.
Heart Health NSW has four walking groups:
Mondays: 8.30am Laurieton
Tuesdays: 9am Wauchope
Thursdays: 8.30am Port Macquarie
Fridays: 7.00am Gladstone
For more information, or to join a planned walk please visit www.hearthealthnsw.com
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