Fifty-five year old Jayne Pritchard, lives with husband Alan and their 15 year old foster child in Hengoed.
Jayne was diagnosed with heart failure in November 2018 after being diagnosed by a doctor while on holiday in Spain a few weeks earlier that she had a chest infection.
Jayne and her husband Alan were on holiday in Portugal in August 2018 with their friends and 15 year old foster child when Jayne fell unwell.
Jayne said: “When we landed in Portugal and I was walking off the aeroplane I felt I had a sore throat and I was more tired than usual.
As the days went by, I was feeling more and more tired when walking and felt like I was overheating. By day five of the holiday I was having minor pains in my chest and pain in the lower part of my left arm, this is when my husband persuaded me to go to the hospital, by then I was feeling anxious so agreed.
“My Father died when he was just 46 years old of a heart attack, and my brother died of the same when he was just 40 years old so knowing there was a family history I was getting increasingly worried”.
After waiting a few hours to see the doctor in Portugal and undergoing a few tests the doctor put Jayne on a drip, issued her with medication and sent her on her way with a diagnosis of a chest infection.
A few days later the family and friends flew home, Jayne still feeling unwell was telling her daughter-in-law how she was suffering with burning in chest, like heartburn, a feeling of tightening of the ribs and pain at the bottom of her left arm. Her daughter-in-law insisted she rang the out-of-hours doctor.
The out-of-hours service carried out a phone assessment with Jayne and advised her to chew two 75mg Aspirin immediately and then call 999. Within twenty minutes a paramedic was at her home and she was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed with a heart attack and taken to Cardiff.
Following this Jayne began to experience increasing breathlessness, extreme tiredness and ankle swelling. These are all common complaints from people who have ‘heart failure’
It turned out that Jayne also had muscle damage to her heart, resulting from her heart attack, in fact her heart echocardiogram showed her left ventricle was only working at 27%. She was diagnosed with ‘heart failure’.
Specialist heart failure nurse Mandie Welch said: “Once a patient has been referred to us we perform an echocardiogram to assess if there’s muscle damage, we then optimise their cardio protective medication. Once we have achieved this we can then carry out another echocardiogram, this will be done to assess whether the medication has improved the function of the damaged ventricle. After the results, the patient will see a cardiologist and they can plan the most suitable treatment for their condition.
“We start patients on the minimum doses of heart failure medications and these are increased at regular intervals. We manage their symptoms, refer them to cardiac rehabilitation where they can be educated on what they need to do to improve their outcomes as well as this we provide ongoing support and education”.
Jayne said: “Receiving the news that my heart was damaged and I had heart failure was terrifying for me and my family.
“The support and care we have received from Mandie the specialist nurse and the hospital has been outstanding and I wouldn’t have been able to get through all this without them. The endless questions and anxiety you feel when going through all this is made slightly easier knowing that you can pick the phone up and have an expert on the other end of the line to help me.”