Sudha's story: Heart disease has devastated my family

For many the news that a loved one has died of heart disease comes completely out of the blue. Sudha was devastated when she got a call to say her brother Ajay had collapsed and died.

My brother Ajay was full of life and really charming.  He could always get you to do what he wanted.

That day he called me when I was on the train home after working in Birmingham.  He asked if I’d babysit his four-year-old daughter, my little niece.

I was tired but I could never say no to Ajay, and I adored my niece, so when I got back he and his wife dropped her at my house.

Ajay called about 10pm so he could say goodnight to his daughter.

He said he’d take my younger son to play football in the morning as a thank you for babysitting.

It must have been after midnight when my younger brother Vijay rang.

Mum had heart failure, so we were constantly expecting calls about her. But that’s not what he said. He told me Ajay was dead.

That moment changed my life.

I couldn’t believe it. He was only 43. 

Ajay’s daughter was asleep on my arm when I got the call. In the morning she was asking for her daddy. She was a real daddy’s girl.

I made the children pancakes for breakfast. I didn’t know how to break the news to them. I had to pretend to be normal.

Later I found out that Ajay had started to feel unwell after leaving their friend’s house, where they had been for dinner. 

He asked his wife to drive him to hospital but they didn’t get far. His wife called an ambulance, but Ajay collapsed before it arrived.

When the paramedics got to him, there was nothing they could do.

Ajay died suddenly from a heart condition that none of us knew about until it was too late. 

Research into the South Asian risk factor

People of South Asian origin are at greater risk of heart disease than other ethnicities. We’re funding a project at University of Southampton that looks into why this might be the case. 

Professor Caroline Fall and her team have been awarded £654,000. They’re working with scientists in Oxford and India and will use ultrasound scans – echocardiograms - to look at the structure of the heart and heart valves in 3,000 adults. 

All the participants in the study were part of a previous research project which began over 40 years ago, allowing scientists to make observations about health in childhood and heart problems in adulthood.

We can’t fund projects like this without your help.