Treating Helaina's heart rhythm disorder

Helaina's heart rhythm disorder

Helaina from Northamptonshire was just 16 when she began experiencing unusual symptoms, including shortness of breath and heart palpitations, which rapidly worsened. She was otherwise fit, healthy and a huge lover of the great outdoors, leading to her family to grow concerned.

Seeking a diagnosis

After explaining her symptoms to her GP, Helaina was referred for an electrocardiogram (ECG), and then onto a cardiologist who diagnosed her with myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle and prescribed her some medication.

Unfortunately, the advised medication did not have the desired effect, instead leaving her feeling worse. At one point she was unable to even get out of bed – a huge change from the healthy teenager she had been just months before.

Helaina added: "I couldn’t do anything. I was off school for four months. It was tough and I missed doing everything I used to."

Feeling in complete despair, her parents Simone and Andrew reached out to Dr Martin Lowe, Consultant Cardiologist at The Harley Street Clinic and The Portland Hospital, both part of HCA Healthcare UK.

As Helaina was still struggling with severe fatigue, Dr Lowe carried out several virtual consultations before she travelled to London for further tests. The test results revealed that Helaina was born with a congenital heart rhythm disorder called atrioventricular nodal re-entry tachycardia (AVNRT), which had gone unnoticed up until now.

Getting a better understanding of her condition

As Helaina was not responding well to beta blockers, Dr Lowe recommended catheter ablation treatment – a drug-free and minimally-invasive procedure for abnormal heart rhythms that sees a thin tube, called a catheter, passed through the blood vessels to record the heart’s electrical activity and then pinpoint and destroy the abnormal area of heart tissue causing AVNRT.

Helaina was quickly booked in to undergo her catheter ablation at The Portland Hospital, and the results from the procedure surprised even her mum Simone: “It was the best decision we ever made. Almost as soon as the anaesthetic from the surgery wore off, she was back to her usual happy self.”

Looking to the future

With the help of Dr Martin Lowe and the multidisciplinary team at The Portland Hospital, Helaina has made a fantastic recovery since her procedure. While it took time for her to reach her pre-existing level of fitness, she was back at school within a week and finally able to enjoy the outdoors with her friends once again.

Helaina told us "After some recovery, I’m now back to doing what I love and studying again for my A Levels. I hope to take a gap year and then go to university in the future."

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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