A GROUP is working to strengthen hearts and decrease the incidence of heart attacks among the indigenous community in Tamworth.
New England Medicare Local is working with Tamworth hospital and Tamworth/Nundle Community Health Service to support more Aboriginal community members to become active with the Heart Foundation Heartmoves class every Friday morning.
“The Heartmoves class for the Aboriginal community was established in July, 2013, and there are now more than 22 participants,” New England Medicare Local Aboriginal Health Team member Bill Allan said.
“Participants are provided transport as needed to participate each week and enjoy coming because the class is provided in a culturally safe environment.
“We have found they enjoy coming because it has helped them to overcome a number of problems they faced previously with accessing care that provided general education, a health check, rehabilitation elements and regular, gentle exercise.”
Heartmoves participant Brian Oliver suffered a heart attack in September, 2012, while he was at work.
“I was a heavy smoker, but I had not thought I would have a heart attack,” he said.
“I had hot flushes and a pain in the middle of my chest and thought it was indigestion. I stopped what I was doing, went outside and lit up a smoke. I started to feel worse, so I went home, picked up my partner and drove to the hospital where they told me I’d had a little heart attack.”
Mr Oliver was taken to John Hunter Hospital where he had a triple bypass.
“I’m lucky to be here,” he said.
Mr Oliver gave up smoking and attends Heartmoves every fortnight and also goes to the hydrotherapy pool.
“The only exercise I used to do was a lot of walking because I was a cleaner in The Atrium,” he said.
“I’ve increased my exercise and I’m saving more money now that I’ve given up smoking.”
According to the Australian Health Care and Hospitals Association, heart attack rates are nearly three times higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Heart attack warning signs may include pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in one or more parts of the upper body in combination with other symptoms of nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness or a cold sweat.