Share your story: Christine King
Christine King

“I believe that the advice given to me by HEART UK saved me from having a heart attack and may well have saved my life”

Share your story

Christine King, Leicester

“I believe that the advice given to me by HEART UK saved me from having a heart attack and may well have saved my life”

Christine became uneasy in the summer of 2010 (at the age of 52) that perhaps something was not quite right with her heart so she had a cholesterol test done by the G.P. The result was a little high at 6.1mmol/l.

Given her Dad’s history, he had a heart attack at 53, Christine had always maintained a diet low in saturated fat and taken regular exercise, so this came as a shock to her.

“I tried to improve my diet further and went to have a heart attack ‘risk assessment’. Based on my weight, height, blood pressure etc, the nurse reassured me that the risk of having a heart attack within 10 years came out as 8%. She advised me that statins were not used to treat high cholesterol unless your risk was assessed as 20% or more.”

However, despite making these changes and this medical reassurance, on having her cholesterol re-tested, Christine found it had gone up to 6.5 mmol/l. At this stage she felt at a loss, and didn’t know where to turn.

Thankfully, Christine found the HEART UK website and rang our Helpline. She was able to share her story, concerns and troubles with our Nurse Advisor and finally felt that her worries were being taken seriously.

When people call HEART UK we always ask about people’s family history, as one of our primary aims is finding people with inherited high cholesterol (FH). In Christine’s case, her father, uncle and aunt had all suffered heart attacks in their 50s. Her aunt’s was tragically fatal. When we hear a family history such as this, we advise people about FH.

“I did not know you could inherit high cholesterol. Thankfully, HEART UK reassured me that with treatment, life expectancy is normal, but without treatment I was probably at high risk of having a heart attack.”

After a consultation with a specialist, Christine now takes Atorvastatin, continues with her healthy diet and takes regular exercise. Her cholesterol levels have come down to 3.6mmol/l.

“I don’t understand why, although my father had had heart problems for over 27 years, his doctors did not think that his children would be affected, despite knowing about genetic heart conditions. I could have easily had a heart attack were it not for HEART UK.

“I understand that one in 250 people may have this condition, so there must be over 260,000 in the UK with FH. Untreated, it causes untold misery and unnecessary deaths. Economically it also makes sense to treat the condition since the consequences of heart disease cost the NHS a substantial amount. I hope that my experience can be used to help to prevent other people suffering heart attacks.”

Currently, cascade screening; the testing of the family members of those with FH, is not mandated in England. In Wales and Scotland it is.

HEART UK launched a report to Parliament in 2012, calling for this to be reviewed and for a national cascade screening programme to be launched in England.

Read the report, or to find out more on HEART UK’s campaigning work.