A Darlington resident is supporting the medical research work of
a local consultant into heart failure after losing her eldest son
to the condition at the age of only 42.
Seventy year old, Doreen Edgar lost her eldest son, David, to
heart failure last year when he was in his early 40s.
Doreen said: "My father had heart problems but he was a smoker
so I'd made sure that I didn't do anything that he did but I was
still affected. It turned out for us that it is very much a genetic
condition. My mother and my brother also suffered heart problems
and last year my eldest son died from a heart complication. He was
only 42. This has made me determined to do all that I can and is
why I feel research into heart failure is so important."
Professor Jerry Murphy, a Consultant Cardiologist at County
Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, is leading the way to
improving care and treatment for heart patients after recently
taking up a prestigious research role with Durham University.
Dr Murphy has been appointed as Professor of Cardiovascular
Medicine in the University's School of Medicine and Health which is
based at its Queen's Campus in Stockton. He will be leading a
number of research projects to investigate cardiovascular
conditions and how these can be diagnosed and managed better while
also continuing his clinical duties, treating patients at
Darlington Memorial Hospital.
Professor Murphy said: "I was delighted to be appointed as
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Durham University. This is
the first position of its kind within the Trust and marks a
pioneering partnership between the Trust and the University to lead
research and development into a medical area which affects many
people living in the North East."
Professor Murphy's research interests are primarily in heart
failure, a common condition resulting from weakness of the heart
muscle. His team have studied better ways to diagnose and treat
heart failure. These studies have included new clinical,
biochemical and genetic tests to help identify patients, new
treatments and ways to improve patient care. Patients with heart
failure are actively involved with the research team and ensure a
patient-focussed approach. The aim is to improve outcome and
quality of life.
Professor Murphy continued: "This is an exciting opportunity to
work more closely with patients and local people to improve our
understanding of cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure
and the effects that lifestyle for example can have on such
conditions and then use this information in developing new and
innovative ways in which we can treat and care for patients."
It is hoped that the research will help patients like Doreen and
her family. Doreen, a retired teacher, has always led a healthy
lifestyle, she doesn't smoke or drink but in 1995 she suffered the
first of two heart attacks, and in 1996 she had heart bypass
Doreen has been a patient of Dr Murphy's for 13 years and is now
working with him on his research projects. Doreen said: "Before my
first heart attack, I'd been suffering from what I thought was
indigestion for about a year. I later learnt that this had in fact
been angina pains. The pain was happening when I was at rest so I
didn't realise what it meant.
"After I had heart surgery I thought it would be like a magic
wand and fix everything but I went on to develop heart failure. It
means that now I can't walk very far and rely on my husband to take
me to places and pick me up again but the worst thing is the
tiredness. It's hard to describe the terrible bouts of tiredness
that you experience. I can fall asleep in the middle of my
breakfast having just got up, because the tiredness is so extreme.
Apparently this is a common symptom of heart failure patients. It
just affects your overall quality of life. You have to find
something to get that quality of life back so when I'm well enough
I go to art classes and enjoy painting which is very therapeutic
and I also go to tai chi and until recently yoga classes. These are
things that we organise through the coronary care support group
which we have in Darlington.
"Dr Murphy suggested that we start the heart failure group, it's
just a small group but it is very reassuring. We can talk to each
other and the heart failure nurse, who attends our meetings, about
any worries or problems that we are having. Quite often the speaker
at our meeting will also talk about problems that we meet.
"I'm extremely supportive of the research work that Dr Murphy is
doing, I'm working with him to provide a patient perspective on
three different projects. One to look at the end of life pathway
for heart failure patients, then heart failure in care homes and
thirdly to look at the different ways heart failure is diagnosed
and treated, with the aim to define best practice for all patients.
I'm looking forward to getting involved in the discussions and
seeing the projects develop further."
'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we
have this service at all and well done to you all.'
Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley
Bridge Community Hospital