Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
This curse has hit my family for generations
NORMAN Ingram was playing football with his son when he first started having heart palpitations.
He was diagnosed as having a heart murmur and the symptons continued for decades. Eventually he was referred to Colchester General Hospital, where he was given the news that sent shockwaves through his entire family.
He was told he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially life-threatening hereditary condition that had been passed on to two of this three sons and three of his six grandchildren.
It is also thought to have been responsible for the death of his father and generations of his family before that.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is thought to have caused footballer Fabrice Muamba to collapse during an FA Cup match, causes the heart muscle to thicken and can affect its rhythm and ability to pump blood around the body.
Fortunately, with early diagnosis and proper treament, most sufferers can live long and full lives.
Norman, 70, says: “There was a lot of guilt that went with discovering I had passed the condition on to other members of the family.
“But on the positive side it did mean that everyone was able to take the medication they needed and have their health monitored.”
The news made Norman look back into his family’s medical history.
He says: “My father, Jesse, passed away when he was 47 and generations before him died in their forties and fifties.
“On my father death’s certificate it stated ‘general heart condition’ as the cause of death. It seems likely now that it was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but without treatment he died early.”
Norman’s own heart problems started when he was just 35.
He says: “I remember playing football with Glen when he was a child and suddenly having heart palpitations. It was quite frightening at the time and I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with a heart murmur.”
As the years went on, Norman’s symptoms increased.
Norman says: “Throughout the 1980s and 1990s I had problems with my heart, but then in 2000 the symptoms got worse.
“I was feeling very unwell and falling asleep at work at lunchtime. I went to the doctor and was referred to Colchester General Hospital. When the test results came back with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy my jaw hit the floor.”
Norman needed open heart surgery and had a pacemaker to help regulate his heart.
After the diagnosis, tests revealed his sons Glen, 40, and Barry, 38, also have the condition. Roy, 35, was given the all-clear but he does carry the gene mutation which causes it in other members of the family.
Later it was discovered that three of Norman and wife Daphne’s six grandchildren also have the disease.
Norman, of Kings Parade, Holland-on-Sea, says: “It was nerve-wracking for us all deciding to find out if other family members had the condition.”
Norman, who has had his pacemaker changed four times, has to change the way he lives due to his condition.
He says: “Nowadays I have to be careful when it comes to physical activity, and take medication.
“You can live a normal life if you know about the condition but a lot of people don’t and then you hear about people dropping down dead with undiagnosed heart problems.
“Looking at your family history of heart conditions might give a clue to whether the condition runs in the family. I certainly wish my father Jesse could have known.”
For more information on the Cardiomyopathy Association visit www.cardiomyopathy.org
Comments are closed on this article.