Melanie Connell Image copyright Melanie Connell
Image caption Melanie Connell only experienced mild pains during her heart attack but needed a triple bypass

A mother who needed a triple heart bypass operation has warned other women not to ignore mild chest pain during the coronavirus pandemic.

Melanie Connell felt a strange sensation in her chest and decided to go to Ipswich Hospital.

Doctors said the 54-year-old had suffered a heart attack and needed surgery.

Women would often experience mild chest pain similar to indigestion during a heart attack, according to the NHS.

Mrs Connell, who lives in Erwarton in Suffolk, said she was doing some gardening two weeks ago when she felt a “raw” sensation in her chest.

Image copyright Melanie Connell
Image caption Melanie Connell and her husband enjoyed a hiking holiday in the Lake District just two months before her heart attack

“It was nothing like you see on television. No sweating, no sickness, no crushing pain, no pain shooting up my arms, jaw or neck,” she said.

The mother-of-two has a history of heart problems in her family, so when the pain reached her back, she decided to go to hospital.

She said she was worried about going during the pandemic but felt it was important “not to be frightened off” by coronavirus.

A consultant confirmed Mrs Connell had suffered a heart attack and sent her to The Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for surgery.

She was allowed to go home five days after her triple bypass and said she was now “pottering around like an old bruised and battered tortoise”.

Image copyright Melanie Connell
Image caption Melanie Connell, pictured here with her husband and children, has a history of heart problems in her family

“Please don’t feel embarrassed or worried about going to hospital. If I hadn’t gone that evening, I may not have seen the morning,” she said.

Women were often unaware of their risk of a heart attack and slow to seek medical help even before the lockdown, according to research.

Barbara Kobson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We are living in uncertain times, and it’s understandable that people might feel apprehensive about going to hospital or putting unnecessary strain on the NHS.

“But heart attacks don’t stop for a global pandemic. Treating them is still a top priority for the NHS and there are systems in place for them to do this.”

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email