Jennifer Tucker is a successful businesswoman and mother of two who has maintained a healthy and active lifestyle her whole life. She had no risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, smoking or a family history, when at the age of 35, she unexpectedly started suffering from shortness of breath and fatigue.
"I couldn't walk uphill without becoming breathless, so I knew something wasn't right, that I wasn't 100 per cent," Ms Tucker said.
The first GP she saw dismissed her concerns, but Jennifer persisted, and a second doctor sent her for a range of tests. A heart angiogram revealed why she had been feeling so unwell.
"I was absolutely stunned to learn I had a 90 per cent blockage in my heart. So my message to women is, be vigilant about your health and if something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body and be persistent with getting help and advice," Jennifer says.
Jennifer was one of the lucky ones - once her heart blockage was discovered, doctors inserted a stent to get the blood flowing and she made a full recovery. But according to leading Clinical & Research Cardiologist (and Coastrek Ambassador), Dr Nikki Bart, Jennifer’s story is, sadly, not unusual:
“What we typically understand as a heart attack is the crushing ‘elephant on the chest’ pain – that’s how men often experience a heart attack, but women experience it differently. Their symptoms are more subtle, a shortness of breath or fatigue, so they often ignore it for longer and can often be misdiagnosed - subsequently the outcomes are much worse,” says Dr Bart.
Compelled by her personal experience, Jennifer joined the Board of the Heart Foundation, with a focus on raising awareness and educating women about their heart health. Both Jennifer and Dr Bart have participated in Coastrek and are huge advocates for its positive benefits, not only on cardio health, but overall health and wellbeing.
“The partnership between Coastrek and the Heart Foundation will shine a light on this important issue for women and help prevent more heart attacks. Coastrek really is the ‘magic pill’ against heart disease because it includes a dedicated training program to build healthy habits – and we know just 20 minutes a day of walking or hiking reduces the risk of heart disease, depression, anxiety, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers by up to 50 per cent,” says Dr Bart.
“For a long time women were excluded from research studies. Even now in our heart attack and heart failure studies, the proportion of women included is well below 50 per cent. Fundraising from Coastrek will help fund really valuable, lifesaving research into women’s heart health.”
For Jennifer, the new partnership quite literally makes her heart sing!
“I was so excited when this opportunity for the Heart Foundation to work with Coastrek started to take shape – the alignment is perfect and we will be able to reach so many women and educate them about the warning signs and prevent more women from unnecessarily dying from heart disease.”
Join Jennifer and Dr Bart as they hike for healthy hearts on Friday, 24 March when Coastrek Sydney steps out on the stunning Northern Beaches coastline.