A Hemel Hempstead woman is set to don her running shoes for a charity run, after two heart attacks in her family.
Nicola Atkinson, aged 31, is taking part in the Hyde Park 10k run on Sunday, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Her father, Terry Bryant, had a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 55.
Eight weeks later, Nicola’s father-in-law, David Atkinson also had a heart attack.
The lives of both men were saved following emergency treatment in hospital.
Nicola, who lives in Nash Mills, said: “It was an incredibly scary time.
“It had a huge impact on both families.
“You never think that younger people have heart attacks.
“And we didn’t know how it was going to affect their lives.
“It was six months before Dad could go back to work and David, my father-in-law, had to have a lot of treatment in hospital before he could leave.
“They both got excellent care and support and have been able to make good recoveries.
“It was a really tough year for everybody.
“Taking part in this run is my way of making sure that the BHF can keep funding the research to improve way heart attacks can be prevented and how they are treated.”
Despite great progress over the last 50 years, cardiovascular disease still kills about 160,000 people each year – more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK.
The BHF is the UK’s leading independent funder of cardiovascular research.
Many advances in the treatment of heart conditions are a result of science funded by the charity.
Nicola, who works for Creative England, based at Elstree Studios, has also been inspired to take part as a way of looking after her own health.
She said: “I turned 30 last year, and a friend challenged me to get fit.
“Back then I really couldn’t do more than 10 minutes of exercise.
“I’ve built my stamina up little by little.
“There are lots of hills where I run and now I don’t get out of breath as much.
“And when I do, I recover quicker.
“I feel so much better in myself.
“Signing up for the 10k run has given me a target to aim for.
“I’ve been training really hard and I reckon I’ve covered 200km pounding round the streets of Hemel Hempstead since the end of August.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to run the course flat out, but I know I can complete the distance, thanks to the support of my husband, family and friends, and my training and healthy eating.”
Martin Mears, regional head of events at the BHF, said: “It’s only because of the dedication of people like Nicola, that the BHF can continue its vital work fighting heart disease.
“Our research has already helped save thousands of lives.
“Every pound raised from this run will be spent on funding new breakthroughs to help prevent, treat and cure heart conditions.”