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Husband struck down by heart failure

Allison Bennett and her husband Steve still don’t know why he developed heart failure, but thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re funding a number of research projects to reveal more about this debilitating and often fatal condition.

Allison Bennett knows from personal experience that heart problems can happen to anyone, without warning.

In February, she took her husband Steve to Wellington hospital after his GP said he had early-stage pneumonia.

“He was admitted immediately and within a few hours they were talking about something being wrong with his heart. When I came to see him the next day, I was told he was in cardiac failure and had less than 10% heart function.”

Steve’s aortic valve – one of the two main valves on the left of the heart – was leaking badly, and he required valve replacement therapy.

This came as a shock for Allison, not just because the news was sudden, but also because Steve, 55, had always been fairly healthy.

“He has no personal or family history of heart disease and he walked our energetic rescue dog Doris for an hour every day.”

To add to the confusion, doctors couldn’t determine what happened to Steve’s valve to lead to heart failure.

That’s because more research is needed in the area.

With the generous support of our donors, the Heart Foundation is funding a number of vital research projects to find out more about heart failure – a debilitating and often fatal condition where the heart cannot properly pump blood around the body.

For instance, Dr Sarah Fitzsimons from the University of Auckland is investigating when and how often diagnostic tests for this increasingly common condition should be done.

The need for more research has prompted Allison, 45, to help raise money for the Heart Foundation by becoming a Golden Heart Racer in Auckland Marathon 2016. 

“This experience has been an eye opener for me as to how these types of events can happen to anyone, no matter how healthy their lifestyle, and without warning. I'll be happy knowing the funds I raise are being used to advance research into treatment and to help support those with heart disease.”

Thankfully, Steve’s surgery was successful and he recovered faster than expected. He is now feeling much better and hopes to get back into his dog-walking routine soon.

“We feel very lucky that Steve has recovered the way he has and are very grateful for the excellent care he received,” says Allison. “Thinking back to how sick he was when admitted to hospital, it really is amazing how far he has come in such a short time.”