How Paige Satchell plays professional football with a heart issue

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Paige Satchell will always remember April 12, 2022 when she was forced off the field in a Football Ferns match after just 20 minutes due to heart pain.

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The condition is called supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and it’s where the heart suddenly beats at an abnormal rate, causing major pain in the chest. 

It was the first time Satchell had been taken off in a match due to the issue.

“It was the first time I had ever had to come off in an actual game.

I was finally making my mark starting for the Ferns, but my health comes first,” she said.

“It can be extremely dangerous to keep exercising when my heart rate rapidly rises.”

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Satchell has learned to live with the heart condition, which she has dealt with since she was a teenager.

“I’ve had the condition since I was 17, but we weren’t able to pick it up for years because it happened so randomly and there was nothing to track my heart rate when I experienced pain,” she said.

This was until the invention of a new Apple Watch.

It has a built-in ECG heart rate test which can help patients with heart issues track key data while they exercise.

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Satchell mentioned how important the smartwatch was in her journey.

“I was diagnosed with SVT in November last year, after finally catching it at training using my Apple Watch. It ran an ECG heart rate test and gave the cardiologist crucial evidence to diagnose it as SVT,” she said.

“It really helped me capture the data which I needed.”

Even though she was diagnosed with the condition already, Satchell had only missed training because of the issue before the Football Ferns match.

“It’s a lot easier when it happens in training. I can remove myself until it stops then carry on when my heart rate goes back to normal. In a game when you are subbed off you can’t come back on though so it’s tough on yourself and the team,” Satchell said.

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That match against in Australia was a defining moment in her career, since she had been weighing up the decision previously to have surgery.

“It was the key moment for me when I realised surgery was necessary. That game changed my mind set and made me not want to let my team down in a A-League or World Cup match again,” she said.

Satchell had heart surgery only four weeks ago and has already played major minutes for both the Football Ferns and Wellington Phoenix this season.

She is back to being the starting striker for the national team, with a home Women’s World Cup ahead.

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Her story is inspirational and proves that you can overcome anything to achieve your dreams, even having a heart condition like SVT and still playing professional football.

Feature Image Credit: Photomac

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Joshua Dean
Joshua Dean
Aspiring sports journalist! I love sports and enjoy writing, so added my two hobbies together! Studying Journalism at Massey University, Wellington.

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