Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Sudden heart disease strikes young mum


Laura with husband Trevor.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 serious.

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 supports sufferers.

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 attended.

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 Association.

or more information about the condition you can contact the Cardiomyopathy Association on freephone 0800 0181 024 or visit the website www.cardiomyopathy.orgm

Ulster Star