Keanan – Fighting heart disease – My Story

My name is Keanan  and I am a 21 year old Physiotherapist who has just qualified from university in Manchester.

Here is my story and why I am running the Helsinki Marathon for NW Hearts Charity CLICK HERE TO SPONSOR MY MARATHON RUN

My story begins back in October 2023 when I was 4 weeks into a marathon training programme. In the early hours of the morning, I was woken up by severe chest pain that persisted for about 2 hours. The first thought that crossed my mind was that I was having a heart attack, however given my age, healthy diet and commitment to exercise and healthy living, I thought this was impossible, so I did my best to ignore this pain and try and get back to sleep. When I woke up the next morning,the pain had gone and I got on with my day as normal. That evening, I set out for a training run. I got about 100m down the road and found myself
hunched over on the pavement with the exact same severe chest pain again. Having always been someone who doesn’t want to make a fuss, I walked home. However, thanks to my amazing friends at uni who persuaded me to go to A & E.  I was immediately taken through to RESUS. I was then told that the likely cause of these symptoms would be a heart attack. Now 2am, alone, lying on the RESUS bed, wires and beeping everywhere, I was genuinely scared for my life.
Over the next few days, following numerous scans and tests, a heart attack remained the likely diagnosis. On the 6th day of my stay, an MRI scan brought  news  that a heart attack was ruled out as a cause for these symptoms but instead, I was diagnosed with Myocarditis and Pericarditis. This meant no exercise and
keeping getting my heart rate below 120 bpm for the next 6 months. The  scan had also picked up an incidental finding of an Atrial Septal Defect – a type of congenital heart disease that had caused a large hole to form in the septum between the two atria’s of the heart. This would require heart surgery in the near future, but the infection had to be cleared first. After a hard 6 months of no exercise and life restrictions, the inflammation had gone, and I was able to have the
surgery. After surgery, I thought I was finally on the road to recovery. About 4 weeks after the surgery, I began to experience severe palpitations with an
irregular heart beat. Urgent blood tests and an ECG were done which showed that my heart was in Atrial Fibrillation  – a potentially dangerous heart rhythm that was
caused by the surgery. There was a less than 1 in 100 chance that the surgery would cause this, but unfortunately, I was that unlucky 1. The medical team in RESUS decided the best option would be to use cardioversion, which would involve using electrical charge to shock my heart back into a sinus rhythm. I remember lying there, staring at the ceiling genuinely thinking I was about to die. I remember, as the sedation medication was going in, just praying that this cardioversion would work and I would wake up to see my friends and family again. I’m forever so grateful to say that it did work, and that I am writing this story now. I am on  long-term medication and haven’t experienced any more cardiac events.

I would like to thank each individual member of the medical teams who have gifted me the chance to continue with the best quality of life I could ask for.
It is, therefore, for this reason, I want to give something back. It is time for me to run that marathon that I never got to do. I will be running the Helsinki
Marathon, in Finland on 24th August 2024. I will be raising money for NW Hearts Charity who are the heart charity for the hospital that I was in. They work to improve the care, services and support for those living with and fighting against heart disease.

I would like to raise money, but also raise awareness that no matter how young you are, or how healthy your lifestyle is, cardiac symptoms should
never be ignored. I exercise regularly, I enjoy  a balanced diet, I don’t smoke, take drugs and limit my alcohol and  I would never have thought this would have happened to me, but it did.

So please don’t ignore the symptoms, taking them seriously could save your life.

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