Helen's ARVC

"I died for 17 minutes"

“I had a cardiac arrest minutes after climbing out of my local swimming pool. I woke up in hospital to find out I had practically died for 17 minutes. It was incredibly scary.

Inherited heart conditions

"That’s how I found out I have an inherited heart condition called ARVC that damages the muscle of my heart and can lead to sudden death.

"Before the cardiac arrest, competitive sport and fitness was a central part of my life. I was a full-time P.E. teacher and I competed at national and international level as a triathlete.

"My triathlon career was over. It was devastating.

"When I left hospital I wondered if my life would ever be normal again. It took me a long time to get my confidence back. At first I would walk with my partner Mike to a metal gate at the opening of our local park and back. I was too scared to go on my own.

"Life has changed as a result of what happened. Today I’m a part-time science teacher, and spend the rest of my time walking my dog Spike. I see life in a lot more detail now – I’m not whizzing by like I used to when running.

I had my cardiac arrest on Valentine’s Day. My partner and I say it’s my second birthday because it’s not the day I nearly died. It’s the day I lived again. It’s never going to stop me doing anything.



What is ARVC?

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy or ARVC is a rare, inherited disease of the heart muscle passed through families caused by a mutation in one or more genes. Chances of inheriting ARVC vary and the condition has four phases. Though there is no cure for ARVC, most symptoms can be controlled using medicines.

Other people living with cardiomyopathy

ARVC is detected in a variety of people at different stages in their life. Here are more stories of people living with various forms of cardiomyopathy:

Caroline's inherited heart condition
Althea's dilated cardiomyopathy
Deb's cardiomyopathy

Support life saving heart research

Researchers Bill McKenna and BHF Professor Hugh Watkins have created a method of finding genetic mutations which has led to a successful pilot of a genetic screening scheme for the NHS that is being rolled out throughout the UK.

Finding genetic markers for cardiomyopathies is about more than just detection and prevention. We can use that knowledge to target drugs and treatments to address some of the symptoms of these conditions. We need your help working towards treatments that help people like Helen lead a better life. Donate to our heart research today.