David’s Story of losing his sister Melanie
Melanie never woke up.
On Saturday 2nd June last year, Melanie and her husband James spent the day as many young families did – looking at a potential new house to buy and nursing a sick baby Mack who had a temperature and was a bit out of sorts.
That night, Melanie and James watched their football teams tussle it out in Dreamtime at the G before going to bed ahead of a special birthday breakfast for her mum the next morning.
Melanie Burton was a fun-loving, thoughtful, driven and busy 32-year-old, happily married and enjoying life as a new mum to baby Mack.
An autopsy revealed that Melanie died in her sleep from a heart attack. Her heart was found to be enlarged and one of the main arteries had an 80% blockage.
The shock and horror of losing Melanie devastated the lives of everyone she knew to the core. This just doesn’t happen to young people, especially a young mum with everything to live for. One of the most agonising parts for her loved ones is that her death could have been prevented had there been more awareness around the symptoms of coronary heart disease in women.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the accumulation of a substance called plaque in the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are important as they supply blood to your heart. when the waxy-like substance plaque builds up, your arteries narrow in size and reduce blood flow to your heart muscle. CAD can cause a heart attack, which is what Melanie experienced.
Signs of heart disease in women are harder to detect than in men. Symptoms are subtler and more ambiguous, like shortness of breath, extreme fatigue or pain in the jaw.
When her loved ones look for clues with Melanie’s health in the weeks leading up to her death, the only possible sign that something was off was her extreme fatigue. Melanie had told her mum that she had fallen asleep at her desk (most unlike the diligent professional that she was) and also whilst talking to her husband on the phone via Facetime. But as any new parent would tell you – and a working new parent at that – extreme fatigue goes hand in hand with this period of your life.
Another clue that Melanie had potential heart issues was a trip to the Emergency Department (a few years or so earlier) where Melanie presented with a fluttering, tightness around her chest. This, however, this was put down to most likely being anxiety – an all too frequent occurrence with women who do present with coronary heart disease symptoms.
Sadly, if Melanie had been given a Heart Health Check, it is likely she would have been diagnosed with several risk factors for coronary heart disease including strong family history and hypertension during her pregnancy. She could have enacted some preventative measures to help reduce her risk of heart attack and she could still be alive today.
In tribute to Melanie’s legacy, her loved ones want to ensure that no other family experiences the devastation they have losing Melanie. As such, they wish to share Melanie’s story in the hope that it raises awareness around heart diseases in women. Know the symptoms, know your risk factors and get a Heart Health Check today.
Watch David’s Story Video