When Liam Rossiter (55) from Dungarvan Co Waterford fell ill in 2017 he put his symptoms down to a lack of exercise and traveling long distances to visit his father in hospital.
On reflection, Liam said he had been suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, reduced ability to exercise, and a persistent cough for about six months.
“It affected me in that I was always active, and to feel the way I did was bothering me a bit. I thought that I had some kind of chest infection and the idea of heart failure didn’t enter into it,” he explained.
But when his breathing deteriorated and he began to turn blue, he needed hospital care himself and had to have fluid drained from his heart.
“I was brought to a CATH lab and during that procedure (draining of fluid) it [my heart] stopped, although with a shot of adrenaline they got me going again,” Liam explained.
“Ultimately, it turned out that I had developed a virus sometime in 2017, a bit like a flu and it got to my heart and damaged it in such a way that it damaged the left ventricle, which is the pumping side of the heart,” he explained.
Heart failure or heart inefficiency occurs when the heart is not working as well as it should and is not pumping blood around the body efficiently.
" I'm on the other side now and thankfully able to do everything that I could do before I was diagnosed,"
Liam never smoked or drank to excess but, in the summer of 2017, began to feel unwell and his condition worsened throughout the year.
“I put it down to my dad being in hospital, and I was up and down to Dublin. I wasn’t getting as much exercise as before and I thought maybe I was just losing my fitness,” he said.
“But as the year went on, I started to develop a chest infection – my breathing was getting laboured, and my energy levels were dropping.
“On December 11 I was turning blue but did not feel cold, so I took myself down to the hospital. The doctors knew immediately something was going on.
“Instead of my heart pumping blood around my body, the fluid was starting to build up around the heart and flowing into my lungs. I spent eight days in coronary care going into Christmas week and you can imagine, being a butcher, how frustrated I was about that.”
“I have gone from not being able to walk up a short hill a few years ago to going out on the bike now for three and a half hours – doing between 60 and 100kms,” said Liam who had an ICD fitted in 2019.
“It is leisurely, and I do not push too hard, but I do enjoy pushing myself a little bit at times if I am feeling good. I feel I am one of the lucky ones. I’m on the other side now and thankfully able to do everything that I could do before I was diagnosed, “ he added.