Tring woman takes on charity half marathon after brother diagnosed with heart defect

A routine scan following an accident revealed that Chantelle Lynn's brother, Chris, had a faulty heart valve

By Hannah Richardson
Monday, 21st March 2022, 5:32 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 5:50 pm

A Tring woman is taking on a running challenge after her brother was diagnosed by chance with a life-threatening heart defect.

Chantelle Lynn, aged 35, is taking part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon on April 3 to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), after her brother, Chris, was found to have a defective heart valve in October.

The startling discovery was made when Chris was rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties after falling from his mountain bike while cycling off road.

Sign up to our daily Hemel Today newsletter

Chantelle and Chris

While checking to see if the 37-year-old had a punctured lung, a CT scan revealed an unrelated problem with his aorta – the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the body.

While the breathing problems turned out to be the result of severe bruising, further tests revealed that Chris had been born with only two of the three flaps that normally close the aortic valve.

As the valve didn’t close fully, it was putting an extra strain on the heart and putting Chris at risk of a sudden heart attack.

Chris, who is a policeman, is on medication and has been taken off frontline duties while waiting for an operation to replace his valve.

But after his surgery, the father-of-two will be able to return to his old role and resume running and cycling.

Chantelle, who is a skin therapist, said: “The diagnosis was a massive shock - it was horrendous to think that Chris could have been taken away from us at such a young age.

“He’s always been a keen runner and cyclist and he’s also got a very physically demanding job. We never imagined there was something wrong with his heart.

“The way I look at it now is that everything happens for a reason. If Chris hadn’t come off his bike, he might not have found out about his heart problem until it was too late.”

Following her brother’s health scare, Chantelle signed up to the London Landmarks Half Marathon.

The 13-mile route takes runners past some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks including Nelson’s Column, the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Chantelle said: “I’ve found the training really hard work. I’ve had a couple of ankle surgeries and this is the first time in three years I’ve really done any exercise.

“If I was doing this for myself, I would have stopped by now, but knowing that I’m doing it for my brother and the BHF keeps me going.

"Every time someone donates to my fundraising, it spurs me on.”

Heart defects are diagnosed in at least one in 150 births – an average of 13 babies each day – with more diagnoses later in life. Estimates suggest that in total as many as one to two per cent of the population may be affected.

BHF events head Lee Sumner said: “We are incredibly grateful to Chantelle for taking on this very personal challenge.

“We’ve made immense progress since our inception in 1961, helping to reduce deaths from heart and circulatory diseases by half, but we must achieve so much more.

“We know we can prevent more people from developing heart and circulatory diseases, that’s why it’s critical we provide the funding so that scientists can discover the next important breakthrough.”

Chantelle has already raised £1,620 for BHF. To donate, visit JustGiving.com/chantellealynn