Leigh's Story

I started to train for my first full marathon in the early summer of 2010. This was a goal that I set out to accomplish after I completed a half marathon two years earlier. My fourth child was about ten months old at that time and although my training was going well, something did not feel right. I started to experience intermittent palpitations in my chest, occasionally after running, but mostly while lying in bed at night. My symptoms were mild at first. My heart would skip a beat once, maybe twice, and then the symptoms would resolve. It never crossed my mind that a serious cardiac condition could be responsible for what I was feeling. I was a healthy 36 year old who was always involved with sports and was becoming an avid runner.

I continued to train throughout the summer and my symptoms slowly became more frequent. There was one thought in the back of my mind that I couldn’t seem to shake: my uncle had gone into sudden cardiac arrest while crossing the finish line of a marathon at the age of 49.

That fall I made an appointment with a cardiologist. He recommended a 24hour holter monitor. Several days later, on the way home from picking my children up from school on a beautiful fall day, I received a call from the cardiologist. Even though the symptoms that I were experiencing were essentially benign, the holter showed that, during the night while I slept my heart went into ventricular tachycardia, a life threatening arrhythmia. Those results were the start of a catalyst of events that would prove to be life changing. I was admitted to the hospital and underwent many diagnostic tests. One test in particular showed evidence of a rare conduction abnormality, which warranted the placement of an ICD (pacemaker/defibrillator) in case I experienced future arrhythmias. One year later, after experiencing my first symptomatic arrhythmia, further diagnostic studies showed that I had a non-ablatable accessory pathway which was also causing my heart rhythm to go into a new arrhythmia called SVT (supra-ventricular tachycardia). It was a devastating and emotional time and I longed to find normalcy in my life.

Through the help of oral medication and the ICD, I was able to resume my role as a wife to an amazing husband and as a mother to four beautiful children. It takes a lot of strength mentally and physically to persevere through such an emotional time in ones life. I feel beyond blessed for my wonderful family and friends and most importantly to have my faith. It is my hope that Hearts Beat with Hope will inspire and inform others, encourage CPR certification and allow us to build community support for one another!