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50-year-old driver stunned by heart attack at wheel

Roxy Garrow with Jeffrey Kolb, the critical care paramedic who helped save her life.
Roxy Garrow with Jeffrey Kolb, the critical care paramedic who helped save her life. Erica Henderson

ROXY Garro never thought she was at risk of having a heart attack.

Just 50 years old and reasonably fit, she hadn't smoked for many years.

But at 8.30am on October 6 she suffered a massive heart attack while driving to a dentist's appointment in Coolum.

Ms Garro said she knew something was wrong when she got to the traffic lights near the surf club.

She began to feel like she was being strangled.

"I knew it was serious," she recalled.

"I just kind of knew I was having a heart attack by the time I hit the lights.

"I still felt in control but I just knew I had to park the car and get into the dentist.

"It felt like the Grim Reaper crept from my throat over into the right side of my chest and then into the left side."

Ms Garrow drove slowly through the main street of Coolum and found an empty parking spot.

She got to the dentist's office just in time.

"I went in and said 'I'm really sorry but I think I'm having a heart attack' and collapsed," she said.

Ms Garro was treated by staff who thought she was having an anxiety attack.

They called an ambulance and the crew immediately confirmed she had suffered a heart attack.

They worked to revive her as she was rushed to Nambour Hospital.

Despite falling in and out of consciousness, Ms Garro said she could remember people fighting to revive her.

"I remember telling them in the ambulance it was getting worse as we drove to Nambour and I thought to myself, 'that's it, it is all over' and I remember letting go," she said.

"At the hospital I watched them unblock the artery in my heart.

"They went in through my right arm, would you believe?

"It was totally incredible watching the monitor as they vacuumed the clots out."

Ms Garro never saw herself as a heart attack candidate as she is fit, not overweight and has never been a heavy smoker, although she did smoke at one point.

She said the only risk factors in her life were a stressful work environment and some family history of heart problems.

"I think everyone should know what amazing people we have in our community, both the ambos and the team at the hospital," she said.

"Without them I would be dead.

"They saved my life and I just can't stop smiling about how lucky I am."

Topics:  coolum heart attack nambour hospital sunshine coast


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