Managing a Rare Heart Condition
Pictured above: Leanne Yates
Dextrocardia is a rare heart condition that affects less than 1% of the population. It’s a congenital disease, which means it’s present at birth due to problems during fetal development.
There are different types of Dextrocardia that affect the body in various ways. In some cases, the heart is on the right-hand side of the body and flipped over, which is sometimes referred to as ‘mirror image’. In more severe cases, other organs in the body are also affected and positioned incorrectly.
Although it’s rare, if it’s only the heart which is impacted by mirror image, it can still function normally.
The causes of Dextrocardia are currently unknown, however, if other problems are apparent like lung and chest defects, it can have an impact on the way the heart develops.
A Lifelong Condition
Emma Buckett, 35, from Reading has multiple health conditions including Friedreich’s Ataxia, a degenerative neurological condition that causes damage to the nervous system and attacks the spinal cord, resulting in restricted movement.
“I’ve had mobility problems since I was 2 and started using a wheelchair more permanently at age 16. Having a wheelchair was easier and made me more able to move independently rather than struggling to walk. It was a relief to get one really.”
A common health issue related to this condition is diabetes, which Emma has in Type 1 form, plus she suffers from hypothyroidism and a penicillin allergy.
“I was diagnosed with all my conditions between the ages of nine and 25. My ataxia is a degenerative condition so I may develop other conditions throughout my life because of it.
Variety of Symptoms
Emma’s conditions have a range of symptoms and unfortunately her ataxia symptoms are likely to worsen over time.
“I am a wheelchair user due to my ataxia, with reduced strength and coordination, so things like typing and lifting are difficult and time consuming. It has affected my speech, gives me hearing problems and severe tiredness.
When Managing Multiple Health Conditions, “Take Control and Never Give Up”
For Peter Haswell, 59, from the Wirral in Merseyside, managing multiple health conditions requires organisation and perseverance.
He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1973, and later with asthma in 2005 after feeling his chest tighten up whilst out on a run. Whilst his diabetes took only 24 hours to be diagnosed, his asthma took 7 days.
Pictured above: Peter (far right) with his son Alexander, wife Ann and daughter Victoria
Being Diagnosed with Diabetes
Peter experienced symptoms of increased thirst and extreme tiredness before being diagnosed with the least common form of diabetes, type 1. He has daily insulin injections, but even with controlled treatment he’s had medical emergencies.
“On several occasions at work my blood sugars have got too low and I’ve needed help to recover.”