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South Darenth woman aims to run 160km in February to raise money for British Heart Foundation


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A 24-year-old has been running 5km every day since the start of the month to raise funds for a charity.

Alexandra Woodward, from South Darenth, was inspired to support the British Heart Foundation (BHF) after her mother, Sarah, was diagnosed with a rare condition that stopped her heart working effectively.

Alexandra is running 5km every day in February to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Picture: British Heart Foundation
Alexandra is running 5km every day in February to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Picture: British Heart Foundation

She was diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy in 2018 at the age of 51, after being rushed to hospital when experiencing heart attack-like symptoms at work.

Alexandra said: "Having this condition has completely changed mum's life. Before the attack, she led a very active life – going to the gym every week and training in mixed martial arts.

"Now, she suffers from breathlessness, fatigue and ongoing chest pain. It's impacted her job as a veterinary nurse.

"Normally, that would involve a lot of manual lifting, normally of heavy animals. She's now unable to do that as much, due to the load on her heart. Even walking the dog can take a big toll on her some days."

The condition can develop at any age, but it typically affects more women than men.

Alexandra Woodward (left), 24, and her mother, Sarah Woodward (Right), 54. Picture: British Heart Foundation
Alexandra Woodward (left), 24, and her mother, Sarah Woodward (Right), 54. Picture: British Heart Foundation

It causes the left ventricle of the heart to change shape and get larger. This weakens the heart muscle and means it does not pump blood as well as it should.

It is not known exactly what causes takotsubo, but it is often brought on by emotional or physical distress.

Around 30% of people will not be able to identify a specific trigger that caused the condition. It is thought to affect 2,500 people each year.

For the gruelling challenge, Alexandra has been running 5km every day since the start of February, except on what she has nicknamed 'Tako Tuesdays,' where she runs 10km.

By the end of her challenge she will have run 160km.

She was inspired to take on the gruelling test as her mother, Sarah, has Takotsubo cardiomyopathy - a rare heart condition that stops the heart working effectively. Picture: BHF
She was inspired to take on the gruelling test as her mother, Sarah, has Takotsubo cardiomyopathy - a rare heart condition that stops the heart working effectively. Picture: BHF

Alexandra, who works in a livery yard, said: "Running is my idea of hell, so I thought it would be a good way to raise money as no one wants to give if it's easy.

"I live out in the sticks, so my route is a mixture of cross-country and road running. I thought it would just be the mud I would have to worry about, but now my route is covered in snow which is making it tougher."

The BHF funds research into all heart and circulatory diseases, including congenital heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia and its risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Fundraising manager for Kent, Hannah Miller, said: "It's very inspiring to hear the efforts Alexandra is making to raise funds for the BHF and make a difference to the millions of people who are affected by heart and circulatory conditions."

You can donate to Alexandra's fundraising campaign here.

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