A Birmingham solicitor who survived a heart attack has been announced as the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) first Business Ambassador in the West Midlands.
Judy Dyke MBE, Chair of Tyndallwoods Solicitors in Edgbaston, will champion the BHF in the region’s business community to help raise funds for the charity’s life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.
Judy has a personal connection to the BHF’s cause after suffering a heart attack in November 2008.
“It happened without warning,” said Judy.
“I was on my regular jog around Edgbaston Reservoir when I felt a sudden pain in my chest. I found myself sitting on the floor and thought that the pain was indigestion or stress related.
“I made the potentially serious mistake of assuming that I just didn’t have to worry. I was 54 at the time and would have described myself as strong as an ox and as fit as a flea. If it did cross my mind that I was having a heart attack, I dismissed the possibility.”
After describing her symptoms to family and friends, Judy was encouraged to get prompt medical treatment. She received this at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where it was confirmed she had experienced a heart attack and would need medication to treat it.
During her recovery, Judy benefited from the resources provided by the BHF. She also received cardiac rehabilitation, a programme of exercise and information sessions to help her get back onto her feet.
Judy, a mother-of-three, added: “When I was in hospital, I was asked to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. I rated it as an 8, because although it was painful it wasn’t unbearable – but it still needed urgent medical attention.
“My advice would be that, if this ever happens to you, please call 999 immediately. Don’t wait and don’t try and be brave, as delaying treatment could lead to more serious damage to the heart.”
Judy’s experience also links into the BHF’s recent work to put an end to the perception that heart attack is a male disease. In its findings, the BHF found that there were stark inequalities in awareness, diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks in women. The research also found that women often delay seeking medical help, which can reduce their chance of survival.
As a BHF Business Ambassador, Judy will represent the BHF in the local community, raising awareness of the charity’s work. The BHF funds life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases, such as heart attacks, stroke and vascular dementia, and their risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. This includes £9m of research that is funded at the University of Birmingham.
However, in addition to the devastating health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the financial impact has meant BHF funding for new research in the UK has halved this year alone – at a time when heart and circulatory diseases still cause heartbreak on every street. In the West Midlands alone, around 300,000 people are living with heart and circulatory diseases – and, shockingly, every 80 minutes, someone in the region dies from one of these conditions.
“After my experience of a heart attack, supporting the BHF just makes sense,” said Judy.
“I’m really looking forward to forming positive partnerships with local businesses to help raise more funds towards the BHF’s ground-breaking research.”
The BHF’s Business Ambassador scheme for the West Midlands has been launched by BHF Fundraising Manager Donna Stokes.
Donna added: “It is fantastic to have Judy on board and we look forward to working closely with her.
“We are seeking more BHF Business Ambassadors to help represent an inclusive and diverse section of the business community in the West Midlands. Ambassadors will receive support to increase their awareness about the impact of national and local BHF projects, to enable them to represent the BHF within their business sector.
“Our research to save and improve lives is funded entirely by the public, including the generous support of local businesses. Due to the reduction in our income, this support has simply never been more needed.”
Anyone interested in becoming a BHF Business Ambassador can contact Donna Stokes, BHF’s Fundraising Manager, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07714 069132.