Reducing heart attack risk – Yvonne’s story

Yvonne Genas

Yvonne Genas has a better outlook following her heart attack, thanks to statin and ACE inhibitor medications, which BHF funding has helped to establish.

“It felt like somebody had taken a sledgehammer and whacked me in the chest,” says Yvonne Genas, 56. “I couldn’t breathe, I was sweating… then I had pain down my arm.” Yvonne was climbing the stairs to her office when these awful sensations took hold.

She didn’t suspect anything serious, but a terrible cough persuaded her to visit the GP a few days later. Yvonne was sent straight to hospital, where she was told she’d had a heart attack. An angiogram revealed two blocked arteries.

Before the 1970s, there were no medications for heart attacks and most victims died. Now, around 70 per cent of people survive heart attacks in the UK.

“Straight away, they put me on a statin,” says Yvonne. “I’m still on that and I’m taking ramipril [a type of medicine called an ACE inhibitor], as well as a beta blocker, aspirin and another tablet for angina.”

Life’s for living and enjoying

We know these medications help heart attack victims recover thanks to BHF research. The BHF/MRC Heart Protection Study, led by BHF Professor Sir Rory Collins in 2002, showed people at high risk of heart attack were about 25 per cent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke if they took statins.

Another trial, in 1994, by BHF Professor Stephen Ball, showed that ACE inhibitors limit long-term heart failure in patients who have suffered a heart attack.

Yvonne’s heart attack has changed her outlook on life. “One time, I would’ve stayed late and cancelled holidays to finish work, but that’s changed,” says Yvonne. “Life’s for living and enjoying.”

Yvonne just treated herself to her first holiday in ages – a sunny Tenerife break with her partner – and is planning a Caribbean cruise. She’s also taken up cycling and zumba.

More useful information