14 May 2024

Illawarra Heart Health Centre celebrates a decade of support

| Zoe Cartwright
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Celebrating the Illawarra Heart Health Centre's 10th anniversary

Celebrating the Illawarra Heart Health Centre’s 10th anniversary are Matt Phillips and Head of Cardiac Services Clinical Associate Professor Astin Lee. Photo: Zoe Cartwright.

The Illawarra Heart Health Centre has helped patients recover from cardiac events for the past decade.

Staff and former patients celebrated the heartwarming milestone on Wednesday 8 May, as part of Heart Week, coming together to share their stories and reflect on their experiences with the service.

Matt Phillips had a family history of heart disease, but as a young man he didn’t have any concerns about his own health.

After routine tests returned some not-so-routine results he underwent major surgery in November, and the Illawarra Heart Health Centre played a key part in his recovery.

“I came in a couple of weeks post-op and they got me up and going again,” he said.

“The team here is fantastic. The level of support and the help they gave us every day was really motivating to get up and get moving again.

“I wasn’t concerned about my heart health, but because of the family history I got myself checked out – and it’s lucky I did.

“It could have been a lot worse.”

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The Illawarra Heart Health Centre brings together key cardiac services, Cardiac Rehabilitation and the Heart Failure Service, as well as the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s (ISLHD) Cardiology Clinical Trials Unit.

ISLHD Head of Cardiac Services Clinical Associate Professor Astin Lee said the clinical trials unit undertook research into the prevention, detection, treatment, and management of cardiovascular disease.

“Our clinical trials team works to expand the knowledge and understanding of cardiovascular disease to help develop new interventions and best practice patient care,” Assoc. Prof. Lee said.

“It gives our patients access to interventions they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

“We are incredibly proud to celebrate this milestone at the Illawarra Heart Health Centre and look forward to the next 10 years as we continue to provide these important services to our local community.”

In addition to the cutting-edge interventions available, the centre is filled with friendly faces – just what you need after a health scare.

One patient, Liz Gard, said she was inspired by the warm atmosphere at the centre.

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“Just before Christmas I went for an angiogram and it found one of my arteries was 80 per cent blocked and I had to have a stent put in,” she said.

“I got a letter about the centre and I want to stay as fit as I can for as long as I can so I thought I’d give it a go.

“As soon as I walked in the door there was this really positive, reassuring atmosphere. The staff are so lovely; they’re really amazing.

“They design a program that meets your individual needs and it addresses education on how to avoid problems in the future as well as the gym.

“It’s been really amazing; they’re so professional and keep you on task. At the final assessment I was delighted; my blood sugar levels were the best they had been for ages – and I enjoyed it.”

Minister for Health Ryan Park said the support the centre gave people to understand and manage their own heart health, symptoms or risk factors was invaluable.

“It’s fitting that the centre’s milestone is being marked during Heart Week, which encourages everyone in our community to take positive steps to reduce their heart disease risk,” Mr Park said.

“Every four minutes one Australian has a heart attack or stroke but as the Illawarra Heart Health Centre shows, people can improve their heart health.”

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