Online with Star version
A Sheffield woman feared she could die when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, but now says she has a new lease of life thanks to a community cardiac rehabilitation programme.
Sarah Glossop, aged 49, was diagnosed with the condition, which is a disease of the heart muscle which can affect its ability to pump blood around the body and lead to heart failure, following a routine echocardiogram.
She attended a late-effects clinic as a result of having leukaemia as an 18-year-old.
Sarah, who has a husband and a 15-year-old daughter, said she lost her confidence and was scared she could die suddenly.
“I had thought that I was just run down after a stressful year, but when I got the diagnosis it really devastated me.
“I was very down about it and I just could not function. I was terrified as I had read that people with my condition can die suddenly, and I was worried that could happen to me.
“I had no confidence in doing any exercise at all, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to work. I had completely lost my mojo.”
Further tests revealed that Sarah’s ejection fraction, a measure of how much blood is pumped by the heart with each contraction, was just 23 per cent.
Sarah, who is self-employed and runs a dog walking business, was worried that she would have to give up her job. Her husband, who is also self-employed, had to take time off work to support her.
The mum-of-one was then referred to the heart failure team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, and subsequently the Community Cardiac Rehabilitation team.
After being visited at home by cardiac specialist nurses, she was encouraged to take part in the programme of exercise classes, which take place at place at the Graves Health and Sports Centre, two times a week for six weeks.
She was set the individual goal of increasing her confidence in doing exercise, and built up the amount she could do using gym equipment and circuit training.
Sarah, of Dore, said: “I was initially worried that the classes would be full of really sick, old people, but I could not have been more wrong.
“It was full of lively and smiley people, and the nurses were welcoming, patient and knowledgeable, and you were never made to feel ill or weak.
“It has made such a massive difference to me. I got my vitality back, I feel alive and really well.
“I am back to dog walking, and find that I have more stamina, but more than that – the fear that had been holding me back is gone.”
Sarah has continued going to classes since her treatment programme finished, and her ejection fraction is now back up to 58 per cent, which is within a normal range.
Her progress has been so impressive that she was named as ‘member of the month’ for October. She has also taken on a role with a cardiomyopathy support group to help others who have the condition.
Senior respiratory physiotherapist Sarah Lee, who is part of the Community Cardiac Rehabilitation team, said: “It has been quite an emotional journey.
“Sarah has seen such a huge improvement, her cardiac function is higher, her fitness level is higher and her mental state has improved as well.
“At first she did not know what she could do and what she couldn’t do, or if she would be able to carry on her business, but now she is doing that and more.
“It has been really lovely to see her journey, it is why you do the job.”