Olympic silver medallist and World Champion, Roger Black MBE, has joined the fight for every heartbeat by becoming a British Heart Foundation Ambassador for Research.
Roger, 50, was diagnosed with congenital heart disease at the age of 11, after doctors discovered that he had a leaky aortic valve. Doctors eventually agreed he could participate in competitive sports, but he would need to be closely monitored through yearly hospital appointments. He has been attending these appointments for the past 39 years, missing just one in 1996 to attend the Atlanta Olympic Games, where he won silver in the 400m and 400m relay.
Speaking of his recent appointment, Roger said: “At 11 years old, I never thought I’d be at risk of getting heart disease, but heart disease doesn’t have a type or an age limit. I have been fortunate to be able to achieve my dreams and not let heart disease stop me – that isn’t always the case.
“But my experience with heart disease doesn’t stop there, like too many other families in the UK. My dad had a heart attack when he was just 50, my mum finding him in the garden. He had been previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and a major cause of stroke. Because heart disease runs in my family, my ten-year-old twin sons, George and Max, have to now be screened for a heart condition as they are at a higher risk.
“That’s why I’m supporting the BHF. It’s made me realise how important the research that the BHF funds is for families like mine. My hope is that, if anyone gets a diagnosis like I did, they know that it doesn’t have to be the end.
Congenital heart disease
Congenital heart disease means a heart condition or defect that develops in the womb, before a baby is born.
Many babies diagnosed with congenital heart disease don’t need any treatment or just need to undergo an operation. But other conditions are more serious, and sadly, some children do not survive.
Roger will be helping the BHF make sure that an average of 12 babies per day in the UK, born with congenital heart disease, are getting diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively, giving them as much chance to grow up and lead full and active lives.
Become a Heart Runner
As part of his role as a BHF Ambassador for Research, Roger is calling on the nation to get running this year and raise funds for our life saving research into heart disease.
From 5k’s and 10k’s to half marathons and marathons – by becoming a Heart Runner, you will be helping us make a real difference for those living with heart disease.