St Vincent's: The Life-saving Heart Centre

Frances's Story

Imagine feeling seriously ill on your way to work, but trying to ignore the symptoms because you have a busy day ahead.

That’s exactly what happened to 53-year-old Frances Cashman. Thankfully, she eventually listened to her body and sought urgent help. If she hadn’t, the results could have been fatal.

I first felt unwell at the train station in the morning. I had a pain in my arm but it passed pretty quickly. I felt it again on the tram but I had a very hectic day ahead, so I tried to ignore it.”

About an hour after arriving at work, Frances continued to feel sick.

“I didn’t feel any chest pain. I was a bit clammy, my arm felt like a dead weight and I felt numbness in my left arm, neck and jaw. I’ve never felt like that before.”

Knowing that women experienced different symptoms to men, Frances suspected she might be having a heart attack.

“I googled the symptoms and the first aider at work immediately called an ambulance.”

Frances was rushed to St Vincent’s which is the leading hospital in Melbourne for emergency and complex cardiac treatment. Frances was taken straight into the life-saving Heart Unit – otherwise known as the Cath Lab. She had suffered a massive heart attack. Straight away the team inserted two stents into her artery, saving her life.

Director of Cardiology at St Vincent’s Hospital, Associate Professor Andrew MacIsaac leads a brilliant team of cardiac clinicians who save lives every day. He reminds us that heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia.  

Don’t take chest pain or breathlessness – or other unexplained symptoms lightly – get help immediately,” Andrew MacIsaac said.

Frances said, “It’s all been a bit surreal and quite scary. All I have is a bruise on my wrist, so it’s hard to get my head around the fact I had such a life-threatening experience.”

“The team at St Vincent’s were amazing. My family and I cannot thank them enough for saving my life.”  

At St Vincent’s demand for our expertise and emergency cardiac treatment is increasing every year.  We save thousands of lives. We have two Cath Labs which are in constant use and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Our oldest Cath Lab is in need of an urgent and total upgrade, with new technology and equipment required to ensure that lives can be saved at top speed. The cost of the new equipment is 1.2 million dollars.

Every cent raised during our tax appeal will go directly toward the new Heart Unit – the Cath Lab. Please support our patients and dedicated staff at tax time by giving generously.


If you’re over 45, it’s really important to get your heart-health check with your doctor. Click the link below to download our Heart Attack Information Sheet.

Heart Attack Information Sheet

Heart Attack Information Sheet



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