14 February, 2024

Support for heart troubles

Heart Support Australia’s (HSA) Peer Support Groups in Caboolture has a new leader, with the groups starting back on Saturday (February 17).

Support for heart troubles - feature photo

The HSA Peer Support Groups give post-heart event support for cardiac patients; they are unique communal support programs that offer comfort and guidance to those who have recently undergone a heart event and for those who have experienced heart conditions and rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately, far too often when people are diagnosed with or undergo treatment for a heart condition, they don’t have ongoing support and that can be incredibly isolating,” HSA CEO Dr Christian Verdicchio said.

“Our support groups are designed to ensure our patients are staying on the path to a healthier life, by making it known to them that they are not alone, because they are interacting with their leader and group members who have gone through similar circumstances.”

Leading the Caboolture Peer Support Group for the first time is Cassie O’Brien, who was diagnosed with congenital heart disease at birth. As a result, she was not expected to live past the age of three.

“I had two open heart surgeries, one at 18 months and the second at three years old,” Cassie said.

“I survived both and have just turned 40.”

In Australia, around nine in every 1,000 babies are affected by congenital heart disease.

Cassie has been a member of HSA for over 10 years, finding that living with a chronic illness while being a mother is a much harder task than most realise.

At 20 years old, Cassie gave birth to her only son, against all odds.

“I was told I shouldn’t have another kid and I spent three months in hospital recovering from the impact childbirth had on my heart,” Cassie said.

“I felt lost trying to navigate how to raise a child while chronically ill – there is no user manual for that.”

As HSA’s youngest Peer Support Group leader, Cassie aims to be an outlet for people who have gone through or are going through heart issues.

“It’s hard for people to fully understand what it’s like to be a heart patient unless you’ve been through it yourself.”


Most Popular