Tony Mellis and wife Yvette

Tony's heart attack story

I had a heart attack on the day of my wife’s funeral

Tony Mellis had just laid his wife to rest and thought he was feeling unwell because of the emotional stress of the day.

The father of two was feeling understandably overwhelmed and told his gathered family that he needed to sit down.

Tony, from Sydney, then decided to head home from the wake with his sisters – a decision which may have helped save his life.

Tony Mellis and wife Yvette

"I had been feeling unwell in the lead-up to Yvette's funeral. I had been out of breath and feeling tingly, but I put it down to the stress of her passing. But I felt much, much worse at her wake. I couldn't even walk home; it was only a short distance,” says the Bondi barbershop owner.

"Fortunately, my sister had had a heart attack just 18 months previously and thought that was what I was having, so I called an ambulance. I ended up in ICU at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney."

Tony says he had not been looking after himself in the lead-up to his heart attack and had been focusing on his partner, Yvette, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2022.

"I was not looking after myself. I was not eating healthy food, drinking too much, and was overweight. I think I was in denial and had overlooked the fact that heart disease runs through my family,” recalls Tony, 57.

His dad had a massive heart attack aged 42, a triple bypass eight years later, and eventually died in 2016. His grandfather also dropped dead aged 40 from a heart attack.

Now, a year after losing his partner in March 2023, Tony is under the care of Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Director Professor Jason Kovacic, who is also a cardiologist at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.

He's eating healthier, has engaged a personal trainer, and, with the help of the drug Ozempic, has lost around 11kg.

Tony Mellis in his barbershop

Tony is one of an increasing number of heart disease survivors who have been prescribed the weight loss drug Ozempic.

Cardiologists worldwide, including at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, have hailed Ozempic and other drugs like it as revolutionary new tools in the fight against heart disease.

Tony says: 

"Ozempic has made a difference. It has suppressed my appetite a bit, but I know I still need to do all the other good things in my life, too. So, it's also down to me if I want to avoid having another heart attack."
Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years