Lorraine's heart failure

Living with heart failure is hard in so many ways. But perhaps, one of the most distressing effects is the impact is has on the whole family.

Lorraine, 48, suffered a heart attack in 2005 and, as a result, she lives with heart failure. "It's really hard," she says, "I was separated from my husband, and the children were quite young at the time. I felt they had to grow up overnight because suddenly they were caring for me. Even now they are always focused on me and my health."

Living with heart failure



Her daughter Charlotte, now 19, is constantly monitoring her symptoms. "It turns your world upside down," she says, "I worry about my mum day and night, 24/7."

Lorraine suffers extreme exhaustion and breathlessness both caused by her heart failure. "With the breathlessness I feel like I'm drowning and gasping for air." she says. However, it is not her current condition that preys on her mind. It's what may happen as the condition progresses. "It scares me, as obviously I want to be around to see my children grow up."

Charlotte and her brother James, now 14, know that there is no cure for heart failure – but they have hope. "She's a really strong person," says Charlotte. "We know first-hand what the British Heart Foundation can do. If they find a cure, it'll be amazing for millions of families."

What is heart failure?

Heart failure means that, for some reason, your heart is not pumping blood around the body as well as it used to. The most common reason is that your heart muscle has been damaged. Usually this happens after a heart attack but it can also happen from high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy and other conditions.

Others who have survived a heart attack

Every six minutes, someone in the UK dies of a heart attack. Even more survive to live with the effects every day. Here are the stories of heart attack survivors:

Hina's heart attack
Maureen's angioplasty
Leo's triple bypass

Support life saving heart research

Our Mending Broken Hearts appeal is the most ambitious research programme yet against heart failure. Our researchers are making new heart cells, attempting to grow new heart muscle to replace lost muscle, and investigating whether we can switch on the genes that promote healing in the heart, looking at what potential the heart muscle has to heal itself. Please consider donating today.