by MARY MAGEE
WHEN you're a busy young mum, feeling tired and lethargic
doesn't seem anything out of the ordinary.
But for 25-year-old Laura Turner from
Rathvarna Drive, it was an indication of something a lot more
For in 2007, two years after the birth of her
youngest child, Laura was diagnosed with the heart condition
cardiomyapathy - the biggest sudden killer of people under 35.
The young Lisburn mum had been struggling
through most days feeling unwell and fatigued, but because she
thought it was normal she was reluctant to go to the doctor.
"I would have felt stupid going to my GP as I
thought everyone had these sort of symptoms at some stage in
their lives,' she said. Things eventually came to a head for
Laura, a part time sales assistant, in January 2007 when mumps
forced her to bed.
She said: "It totally knocked me off my feet
and I never seemed to fully recover. My symptoms were much worse
and at night I felt like I was dying.
"I also suffered constant migraines and it
was this that led to my diagnosis. I came across an article in a
magazine linking migraines with heart problems.
"So with my article in hand I finally plucked
up the courage to make an appointment with my GP." The GP did an
ECG took her blood pressure and referred her for an
echocardiogram at Lagan Valley Hospital. The procedure, an
ultrasound scan of the heart, revealed Laura was suffering from
a heart problem and she was kept in for further tests.
As cardiomyopathy was suspected she was then
referred on to specialists at the Royal.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart
muscle that causes it to enlarge and pump less strongly. The
condition affects around 1 in 2,500 people of all ages.
Laura said: "My consultant did further tests and
took a family history because the condition can be inherited. "Cardiomyopathy
was confirmed but my care has been excellent and this has certainly made the condition
seem less daunting. I am on drug treatments but still awaiting
more tests. My specialist has suggested I may benefit from
having an internal defibrillator fitted.
"That would help my heart beat more regularly
and would shock my heart if it developed a dangerous rhythm. But
no decisions have been made about that yet."
Laura, who is married to Trevor, a
29-year-old civil servant, has two children Jordan (7) and Jack
(3) added: "I am still very tired, but my fantastic husband,
family and friends have helped me through and I'm very positive
about the future."
Laura has spoken out during Cardiomyopathy Week
(September 20- 26) which aims to raise awareness of the
condition and the Cardiomyopathy Association, a charity that
She said: "It's very important to me that
more people are aware of cardiomyopathy, its symptoms and its
implications. That's why I am trying to raise awareness.
"Cardiomyopathy is the biggest cause of
sudden death in the under 35s but nowadays there are very good
treatments for it. With proper care most sufferers can go on to
lead a long and full life. If people have cardiomyopathy in the
family it is important that close family members have heart
checks so they can be diagnosed early."
Laura is a member of the Cardiomyopathy
Association which provides information and support to affected
families, helps educate medical staff and campaigns for more
heart checks and genetic testing for people. It also funds nurse
specialists at hospitals including the Royal, where Laura
Laura is also using the special week to hold
a fundraising BBQ for family and friends and organised a street
collection in Bow Street on Thursday for the
or more information about the condition you
can contact the Cardiomyopathy Association on freephone 0800
0181 024 or visit the website