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‘I had a sudden heart attack – now I’m holding fundraising Clubbercise event at Cambridge Junction for British Heart Foundation’

A woman who had a spontaneous heart attack because of a rare cardiovascular condition is holding a clubbercise event to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Jo Barlow, 48 from Cherry Hinton who suffered a heart attack. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jo Barlow, 48 from Cherry Hinton who suffered a heart attack. Picture: Keith Heppell

Jo Barlow, 48, from Cherry Hinton, was walking to her parents’ home in November 2015 when she started to feel a pain in her chest.

After arriving, she tried to lie down and rest, but was unable due to the intensity of the pain she was now suffering. After being taken to hospital, Jo was told she had suffered a heart attack.

Doctors were initially unable to determine the cause. It was only a week later, after a series of tests, that she learned her heart attack had been caused by a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Currently, the condition cannot be prevented or predicted.

Jo said: “Mentally recovering from this was horrific and it’s so hard to explain what it does to you. It knocks you to your very core. I would say I was quite a confident person before, but this made me feel very insecure.

“I had some very dark days following my event. One minute I’d be thankful to be alive and the next I’d feel very low and depressed. When I heard about other young people dying suddenly, for whatever reason, I would feel guilty about having survived. The period following my heart attack and diagnosis were a crazy journey for me.”

After three months off work, Jo returned to her job working as a childcare assessor. However, she was forced to relive the event when her mother, Susan, had a heart attack in November 2020 before passing away five months later from the resulting health complications.

Jo said: “Seeing someone you love go through that was worse than my own experience. I now understand why she wanted to wrap me in cotton wool after my heart attack. I wanted to put her under a weighted blanket so I could keep her safe.”

Since her heart attack, Jo has qualified as a first aid trainer. She has now decided to support the BHF by teaming up with her fitness trainer friend, Amelia Grant, and organising a clubbercise event.

Clubbercise is a nightclub dance-themed exercise where participants get a cardiovascular workout soundtracked by popular songs. The event is taking place at the Cambridge Junction on October 15.

Sign up at junction.co.uk/events/ cambridge-clubbathon-2023/.

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