Keeping the wheels spinning: Jan rides for family and fundraising

Jan

Eighteen months ago, Jan Barton-Wolfe discovered she had familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), an inherited condition that puts people at high risk of a heart attack at a young age. She discovered she had the condition in January 2017 after a tragic death in the family. Jan, 53, from Mayford, took part in Prudential RideLondon 2018, riding 100 miles to raise awareness of heart health and raising funds for the BHF. Here’s her story.

My cousin, Kate, was just 20 when she died suddenly of a heart attack. It devastated our whole family. It was barely a year since her wedding and she had a beautiful little daughter.

Kate’s death meant the whole family got genetic testing to see if others also had FH, the inherited condition that contributed to her death.

When I learnt I had FH it was like someone had hit me in the face. I seemed to be fit and healthy. And then I found out both my daughters also have the condition – I was inconsolable and terrified that I could lose them to this disease.

Screening among the extended family has now found 15 relatives, including my younger sister and older brother, live with the potentially deadly condition. In total, 30 of us were tested.

Doctors have told me there’s no cure for FH but it can be treated successfully. In most cases, people are prescribed a statin which helps lower cholesterol and reduces the risk of a getting heart disease, having a heart attack or stroke. And for most people exercise is encouraged too.

I really wanted to raise money and awareness of the condition, so I decided to take on Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, which winds its way from Surrey into the capital – a beautiful journey. And despite the wind and rain on the day, we got through! Karen Mizzi, one of my riding partners, also rode for the BHF. Her family has been affected by heart disease as well.

Jan and her friend completed RideLondon 2018

Jan and Karen raised £1,500 for BHF’s crucial research.

As a police officer, I’ve always been quite fit but I’m fairly new to cycling so, in preparation, our riding team trained twice a week in order to get the miles in our legs.

Taking part in Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 was important to me because I know BHF’s research is helping to keep my family alive. It’s because of the work done by their scientists that we know about the faulty genes that cause FH, and that there’s genetic testing so people can be diagnosed and receive treatment as soon as possible.

And even though the 2018 ride is done, I won’t be getting off the bike any time soon – the wheels will continue to spin. I couldn’t recommend prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 enough. Do yourself a favour and sign up for 2019.

Join team BHF for Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2019

 

It’s estimated that 1 in 250 people in the UK have FH, and siblings and children of a person with FH have a 50 per cent of having the genetic defect.