Dominic McGrath, PA
A mother-of-two diagnosed with a heart condition is preparing for a 5km challenge to thank the charity that helped rebuild her life.
Breda O’Neill (52) has ventricular tachycardia – an abnormal heart rhythm where the lower chambers of the heart beat too fast, meaning the vital organ may not be able to pump enough blood around the body.
“I didn’t know what was happening to me, I thought it was my blood pressure, so I want to raise awareness of the symptoms,” said Ms O’Neill, who ended up in intensive care for a week in 2019.
“The problem with my heart is not structural. I had an MRI and angiogram, and everything was fine – it’s the electrics which are causing the issue for me.”
Now, Ms O’Neill is urging everyone to put on their training gear and sign up for the Irish Heart Foundation’s Love Run on Valentine’s Day next year.
The 5km event is part of the charity’s annual Show Some Heart fundraising appeal.
In the summer of 2019, Ms O’Neill, a Kildare woman living in the hurling stronghold of Danesfort in Kilkenny, started feeling dizzy and had a thumping feeling in her heart while doing everyday tasks such as vacuuming and walking.
A number of checks and tests identified no issues, but while at work in September 2019, she was overcome by dizziness, had difficulty breathing and almost lost consciousness.
Her husband brought her to hospital, where a stress test was carried out, revealing she had ventricular tachycardia.
She now takes medication and sees an electrophysiologist once a year for a review of the electrics of her heart.
“The medication keeps my heart rate low, which means I get tired often. I’m normally a very active person and I’m always on the go, and sometimes I have to slow down and stop.
“Some days are bad and some are excellent, but the medication is very good and my consultant is constantly tweaking it.
“I live with it, and it can happen again, but my condition is stable and I’m doing well at the moment.
“I’m part of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Heart Support Network online and it’s excellent – I find it very beneficial. I post often in the group and I love how helpful the other patients are.”
Ms O’Neill has signed up to walk the 5km Love Run to help the Irish Heart Foundation.
The February 14th challenge can be undertaken by participants wherever they choose across Ireland.
The vital funding it generates is normally raised through bucket collections, bag packing and other events – now most fundraising activity has moved online due to Covid-19.
Judith Gilsenan, the charity’s head of fundraising, said thousands of people like Ms O’Neill are diagnosed with a heart condition every year and need support and information.
“Overnight, their lives change and they can feel vulnerable and isolated. Thanks to the support of the public, we can be there to help them through our nurse support line and support groups,” she said.
“Next Valentine’s Day, across Ireland, people can help support those living with heart conditions and stroke and those they love by taking part in the Love Run.”