To mark World Heart Month, throughout February we will be sharing the stories of some of our supporters and how research has changed their lives. You can read each of their stories below.
In 2003 London taxi driver Dan Burgess experienced a life-threatening aortic dissection, which is a tear in the aorta – the major artery that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic dissection is a fatal condition for many patients and kills more people in the UK each year than road traffic accidents.
Against the odds, Dan survived and went on to found Aortic Dissection Awareness UK & Ireland, the national patient association for aortic dissection, which supports people affected, campaigns to raise awareness and works to improve diagnosis and treatment.
Thanks to research, Dan is still with us and his work has benefitted many other patients too.
“I didn’t know whether she would survive. I sat praying the entire time that she would pull through.”
Imogen was only six months old when doctors realised her chest infections were much more serious than they thought. She had a seven-hour long operation to correct a rare heart condition and then was put on a life-support machine.
Thanks to research, Imogen is living a happy and healthy life.
“Heart conditions have affected so many people in my family. We need research to save lives.”
Paul O’Grady, celebrated TV presenter, comedian and actor, knows first-hand how devastating heart problems can be.
Thanks to research, Paul is still with us.
We know research works.
“So many people are living with genetic heart conditions without knowing.
I was the first to discover it was in the family. I used to love high intensity exercise and had no idea I was putting myself in danger. I was on a run one morning when my heart went into VT (ventricular tachycardia – a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) caused by abnormal electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart).
I was very lucky that I didn’t have a cardiac arrest.
Thanks to research I now have an ICD in my chest that keeps me safe should my heart go into a dangerous rhythm again. I’m just happy to be here.”
“I’m still here, and that’s down to research.
I suffered a heart attack in 1995, then I needed to undergo heart surgery in 1997.
Through the years, I’ve taken lots of medication for my heart, and it works wonders.
I’m still here 25 years later, and that’s down to research. I was told I would have 10, maybe 15 years, but I’m still going strong.
I live life to the fullest and just enjoy life now.”
“Not too long ago, I struggled to walk very far and my breathing was terrible. I went to see my doctor, who thought I was having a heart attack, and the specialists in hospital ran tests and kept me there for over a week.
Atrial fibrillation was suspected amongst other things. They put me on a course of medication, and told me I would most likely need an operation. I was advised to lose weight and exercise.
I took on some Heart Research UK challenges, and I have now lost 6 stone and been discharged from hospital, with no operation required, and I’m raising a bit of money to give back to them to carry on the work that had saved my life.”