Rare Heart Condition Misdiagnosed as Panic Attacks: A Brave Woman’s Journey

Maggie Jane Colvill, a 24-year-old social work student from Sheffield, England, has shared her harrowing experience of being diagnosed with a rare heart condition, which was initially mistaken for panic attacks.

The ordeal began in May 2022 when Maggie experienced her first episode. She described feeling her heart race and experiencing shortness of breath while casually scrolling through her phone. Assuming it was a panic attack, she carried on with her life.

However, her life took a frightening turn in April 2023 when she had another episode. This time, the rapid heartbeat and breathlessness were more severe. Maggie realized that something was seriously wrong and feared for her life.

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Recalling the terrifying moment, she said, “I thought I was having a heart attack and that this was it for me. I would be found dead on my bedroom floor.”

Panicked and alone, Maggie dialled 999, but with a 2-hour wait for an ambulance, she reached out to a friend who rushed her to the A&E.

Medical professionals conducted an ECG and monitored her heart rate, which gradually returned to normal over the next two hours. However, it took several more months before Maggie received a diagnosis: Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome, a rare heart condition characterized by an abnormally rapid heartbeat.

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Her heart condition also revealed that the left side of her heart wall was thicker than the right, further complicating her situation.

The recommended treatment involves surgery to repair the hole in her heart. Still, it comes with significant risks, including a one in 200 chance of a heart attack during the procedure and a one in 1,000 chance of not surviving. Without surgery, her odds of survival are even lower.

Maggie shared her emotional journey, saying, “It’s a scary thing to go through at any age but to go through it while you’ve got so much life ahead of you and so much left you want to achieve is another type of fear.”

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Despite the daunting prospect of surgery, scheduled for February 2024, Maggie remains positive. Supportive friends and family surround her, has engaged in fundraising for the British Heart Foundation and is focused on her university work. She also looks forward to attending a Taylor Swift concert with her best friend after the surgery, should all go well.

Maggie’s resilience and determination to embrace life without fear are an inspiring testament to her courage in the face of adversity.


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