Co Antrim woman 'living with a failing heart' describes how her life has changed
A CO Antrim woman who is "living with a failing heart" has described how her quality of life has changed following the shock diagnosis.
Tara Loughlin from Ballyclare (42) was fit and healthy before she began to suffer from heart palpitations six years ago.
She was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, meaning nerves in the body are damaged, but was given the devastating news last year that she has heart failure.
While treatments are available to control heart failure - when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow in the body - the only cure is a transplant.
Ms Loughlin said learning she had the condition, at such a young age, was a massive shock.
"I was always very fit and healthy. I have two dogs and also was a runner and did zumba classes," she said.
"Six years ago I first noticed something was wrong. When I was running I couldn't breathe as well as I used to and would get some palpitations but I didn't think anything of it.
"Then three years ago I collapsed in work.
"I underwent a lot of investigations and was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy when nerves in the body's extremities are damaged so I put all my problems down to that.
"Then last June I was again having palpitations that wouldn't go away and after more tests I learned my heart is damaged and I have heart failure.
"It was huge shock to hear the doctor say it because it's just not something you expect to hear at this age."
Ms Loughlin said "sometimes it's very hard to stay positive".
"I was told that usually it's part of your heart is damaged, but in my case it's my whole heart so we're all still getting our heads around it," she said.
"My quality of life has really been affected. I'm tired all the time and my legs feel heavy. I have shortness of breath and find it hard to keep active like I used to.
"I make an effort with my appearance and because people can't physically see my symptoms they think I'm okay. I might look perfectly fine but I'm living with a failing heart."
To raise awareness of the importance of research and funding, Ms Loughlin is supporting the British Heart Foundation's 'Thank You' campaign including a sponsored walk called Tara's Trek in Carlingford on February 24.
Jayne Murray from BHF NI said: "Our lifesaving work is already helping people like Tara, as well as the lives of babies, children, young parents and families.
"But our work doesn't stop until we can finally end the devastation caused by heart disease. With your support, we can continue to fund the vital research needed to help keep hearts beating across the UK."
For information, see justgiving.com/fundraising/tara-ferris.