I am
Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

A story from Ange Foster

By the age of 38, Ange Foster felt she had a good grasp on how to navigate life’s curveballs, especially when it came to her health. 

However, in her early 30s,  she was diagnosed with two chronic conditions: Hashimoto’s Disease (when your immune system attacks your thyroid and it stops producing hormones) and Fibromyalgia (a condition that causes pain in the muscles and bones, along with fatigue and poor sleep). 

After each diagnosis, she became what she calls “a proactive participant in my own health”: Ange dove into educating herself on her conditions, and what she needed to do to get on with her life. 

But her next health challenge proved to be the big one. 

“I had just come back from Bali and started to feel tired and unwell. I thought I had caught a virus, or my other conditions were causing the fatigue and cold-like symptoms,” Ange explains. 

Her symptoms worsened: she began to feel breathless when walking and would wake in a cold sweat. A trip to her GP revealed she had dangerously high blood pressure and a very fast heart rate:  she was told to go straight to the hospital. 

Several tests and a couple of hospital trips later, Ange was diagnosed with severe dilated cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle, where the heart cannot pump blood as well as it should), putting her at risk of needing an automated external defibrillator (AED) or, potentially, a heart transplant. 

“The first few days in hospital after my diagnosis, I felt so alone and out of place. Apart from the nurses, I was the only young person in the ward. My immediate needs were to understand what I was dealing with, and what I could do to educate myself to support my body and my lifestyle,” Ange said. 

Learning more about her condition and the support available 

Ange felt that information about cardiomyopathy was aimed towards older patients, and most of it did not resonate with her. She was also determined to find a cardiologist who would understand what it was like to be a young woman, thinking about starting a family, with heart failure. 

“Those days in hospital, and the three months of recovery after, were the first time I had experienced social isolation. I became focussed on my mortality. Everything I read suggested I may only have 10 to 15 years to live, so I wanted to understand what the condition meant for a young person like me,” Ange explained. 

After reading a Heart Foundation brochure in the hospital, she discovered Supporting Young Hearts.  

I got onto the Supporting Young Hearts webpage and watched videos of young people talking about their experiences; it really connected with me. I thought, “Great there are other people out there like me!

The resources were fantastic. I felt like I had finally found a home like I belonged somewhere.

Ange is now on the Supporting Young Hearts Advisory Group and is passionate about helping young people connect to the program and to each other. 

“The Supporting Young Hearts community is like your own wolfpack. If you’re having a bad time, you can go into the group, and you will be surrounded by people who understand and can give you advice and support,” Ange said. 

Ange’s tips for young people living with a heart condition 

  • Try to find a cardiologist who understands what it’s like, and what the challenges are for a young person to live with a heart condition  
  • See your GP regularly; they are important in helping you manage your recovery and life with a heart condition  
  • If this service is available, go to cardiac rehabilitation. “I thought I wouldn’t learn anything, and I was wrong. Cardiac rehabilitation got me out of the house and gave me the confidence to get back to living my life. I could relate to every person there, regardless of their life stage,” Ange recalled. 
  • Take your medication, it is saving your life. Try to eat well and get more sleep. 
  • Connect through Supporting Young Hearts. “The Facebook group is a gentle way to understand the world you are entering. It’s such a supportive and engaging group, and a very easy way to meet people just like you," Ange said. 

The Supporting Young Hearts program is there for people, aged 18 to 45 years who are living with a heart condition or recovering from heart surgery. It aims to help younger people connect and support each other by sharing stories and learning how to manage their condition and keep their hearts healthy. 

For free, personalised heart health advice give our Heart Foundation Helpline a call on 13 11 12. 

 

Research Directory

Research Directory

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Would you like to improve the cardiovascular health of your patients?...

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

With immediate help a cardiac arrest can be survived. Learn how to save a life....

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

Serves Makes 1 cup | Serves 6 (2 tablespoons – 40ml)

Pumpkin falafel wraps

Pumpkin falafel wraps

Pumpkin falafel wraps

10 minutes
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Kate wanted to find a way she could make a difference to future generations...

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL TRIALS ...

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

One of the most powerful ways to help support a future without heart disease is to include a gift to the Heart Foundation in your Will...

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Serves Makes 350g | (Serves 8 – about 2 tablespoons - 44g)

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

Information and FAQs about COVID-19 and heart disease....

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Become a Heart Foundation fundraiser, do it for heart and make a real difference to your community....

Our history

Our history

Our history

For more than 60 years the Heart Foundation has been helping improve heart health across the nation....

For professionals: Guidelines for acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

For professionals: Guidelines for acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Australian  guidelines  for  prevention, diagnosis and  management of  acute  rheumatic  fever and  rheumatic  heart  disease ...

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Nine out of 10 Australians could reduce the risk of heart disease by walking as little as 15 minutes more each day....

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

Fruit and nut muesli

Fruit and nut muesli

Fruit and nut muesli

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

Should population-based CVD risk assessment models make way for individualised risk prediction techniques?...

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Supporting Young Hearts Program

Supporting Young Hearts Program

Information and resources for health professionals who are treating patients between 18 - 40 years of age....

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Search our heart healthy dinner recipes for tonights main meal...

Smoking and tobacco regulation

Smoking and tobacco regulation

There are still more than 20,000 deaths caused by smoking every year....

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

5 minutes
Serves 1

Q&A with Professor Levon Khachigian

Q&A with Professor Levon Khachigian

Q&A with Professor Levon Khachigian

Developing a new medicine for inflammatory cardiovascular disease...