The UK’s Andy Bowden is paying it forward by blogging on heart disease.

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In May 2015 extreme night sweats signified that I had somehow managed to contract Endocarditis, a rare and potentially fatal type of heart infection. It is specifically an infection of the inner lining of the heart (the endocardium), most commonly caused by bacteria entering the blood and traveling to the heart.

Three years earlier I had been diagnosed with a leaking Aortic Valve. I had probably been born with the condition and was advised that at some stage in my life I would possibly need surgery to replace it, but as I had no symptoms it was not deemed necessary until such time as they began to develop.

The heart is well protected against infection and bacteria usually pass by without causing any harm. However, if the heart valves are damaged it’s easier for bacteria to take root and bypass your normal immune response to infection and evidently this was the case with me. The infection had attached itself to my Aortic Valve and was basically dissolving the leaflets that form it. To this day I have no idea how the infection entered my blood stream.

The onset of Endocarditis meant that I had to be immediately admitted to Hospital and attached to an intravenous drip which administered antibiotics for a period of 6 weeks. During my stay I was informed that it was necessary for me to undergo open heart surgery to replace my leaking valve.

During the first few days in Hospital I was understandably concerned and scared of what the future may hold for me. Although I understood medically what was wrong and what was going to happen, I was desperate to find out about people who had been through the process before me and how their lives had been affected.

It was during many hours of trawling through the internet looking for information of people who had gone through open heart surgery that I came across the Ironheart website and the inspirational stories of people who not only had survived surgery but who had used it as a spur to improve their lives.

In those early days Ironheart helped me to develop a positive mental attitude. I believe that even negative things happen for a reason and decided that if I had to go through the surgery and recovery process the experience would be wasted if I did not come out physically and mentally fitter and stronger than I had been before I contracted Endocarditis.

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I am now well on the way to a full recovery and in 2016 plan to take on the Isle of Wight ultra-marathon.  Ironheart has been a great help in my recovery process.  It is my intention and desire to help drive awareness in any way possible through my blog


– Andy Bowden, United Kingdom