Cardiomyopathy

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Live from Alexandra Palace Garden Centre, London
Falklands veteran John Ellis and his daughter Faith were both fit and
healthy until they suffered sudden health crises.
John's was 11 years ago, as he told Watchdog Healthcheck: "I felt
like I got a little bit of a flu bug and that night I just couldn't
breathe. Then probably two days later they actually came and said I have
got cardiomyopathy and that my heart was massively enlarged and that the
only cure for it was a heart transplant. Literally from being very fit to
actually being in a bed on life support took 48 hours."
Faith had no health problems until after the birth of her son Brandon a
year ago: "I was throwing up all the time, couldn't get water down. I
was at my mum and dad's house and I just collapsed. The next minute I
knew, I was in hospital at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. They told my dad
that it was something to do with my heart and they suspected that it could
be the same heart disease that he'd got."
Faith was shocked to be told that, like her Dad, she too needed a heart
transplant and was also suffering from cardiomyopathy, a largely
hereditary condition in which the heart muscle can become enlarged and
fail. Now the Ellis family know all about cardiomyopathy. John's mother
has it and his aunt died from it two years ago and one first cousin has
had two heart transplants, but that is not all. As John told the
programme: "There have been approximately nine fatalities in the
family all down to hereditary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and there are
up to fifteen in total that are suffering, or have suffered from
cardiomyopathy."
Cardiomyopathy is often
misdiagnosed or simply not noticed at all. It can strike apparently very
fit people. Like 17 year old amateur boxer, John Tiernan.
June Boulton, told the
programme: "He knew he wasn't well, he'd said a couple of nights
before he went over to my daughters that he felt strange. But he couldn't
exactly say what the problem was, he just said that he would go to the
hospital on the Sunday when he come from me daughters and get checked
out."
John collapsed and died before going to hospital, the coroner could not
find a cause of death. That was not good enough for John's mother, she
suspects he died of cardiomyopathy. She has researched the subject, and
now knows she too has the disease:
"I thought maybe that is what John died of because someone can't die
of nothing. There is no-one who has informed me that it is hereditary, not
the coroner, not the doctor, no-one. There is no information
anywhere."
"
About 120,000 people in the UK have cardiomyopathy and no disease
is responsible for more sudden deaths in the under 25's. "