Inherited conditions are like a ticking time bomb in your family

11 December 2013        

Category: Survival and support

David Collings

David Collings was told on his birthday that he had suffered a heart attack. He later found out he had familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited condition which leads to high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart attack.

I’d been taken into hospital just after Christmas three years ago. It was Boxing Day and my wife Gill and I were walking the dogs when I felt my chest getting tighter and tighter. It took me about an hour to walk back to the car – only a mile away. I was really struggling.

The same thing happened over the next couple of days. I contacted my doctor, who sent me to hospital for some checks. They did a blood test, the results came back at 2am – on my birthday. They woke me up to tell me that I had had a heart attack. 

My wife rang me in the morning and I couldn’t speak to her because I was in tears.

I was absolutely shocked. My wife rang me in the morning and I couldn’t speak to her because I was in tears. I am not normally emotional, but it was the shock of it.

On New Year’s Eve I had a stent fitted. The cardiologist came and saw me afterwards and said I was extremely lucky to be here. One of my arteries was 99% blocked. I was later referred to be tested for familial hypercholesterolaemia. I had never even heard of it. But it turned out I had the gene.

They went on to identify six people in my immediate family who had the gene. One of them was my daughter Bethan. She was 12 at the time. We are now both on statins and we try to eat healthily and exercise.

Road to recovery

After all of this my confidence took a real knock. I didn’t want to see people. I didn’t even want to answer the phone. But I’ve had a gold standard service from the BHF. The day I got back from hospital there was a BHF cardiac nurse with me at home, discussing my diet and exercise. They put me on a fitness programme and showed me what I could safely do. They also arranged for someone to explain all my medicines to me.

This genetic condition is a ticking time bomb in your family. But with the help of the BHF I have come to terms with everything. I feel better knowing Bethan can be monitored. It may have saved her life.

Text Santa

David appeared on ITV’s Daybreak as part of our partnership with Text Santa.

Over 2 million people in the UK struggle with the devastating effects of heart disease. The money raised through Text Santa will enable us to continue to fund nurses, who provide vital care in communities and ensuring help is just a phone call away.

To donate £5 text SANTA to 70070. Every penny of your donation will be distributed equally between the six charities.