It was all in vein.
After doctors reportedly told Jade Cooke three times that her heart palpitations were anxiety, she was shocked to learn she actually suffered from a life-threatening condition.
The 35-year-old Brit said she did yoga up to five times a week — until she started having trouble breathing in early 2019. Despite clinicians apparently shrugging off her concerns and writing them off as anxiety, an X-ray revealed what was really brewing.
“When I initially went to my [general practitioner] with concerns, I was fobbed off three times, with them saying it was anxiety,” she told SWNS. “My mom came with me in the end and pushed for me to have an X-ray that revealed my heart was enlarged.”
She reported being diagnosed in March 2019 with a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which causes the heart chambers to stretch, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Cooke says at the time, her heart was only pumping at 11% — when it should have been at 50% to 70%. She couldn’t “do much” or “walk far,” which she said negatively affected her mental health.
Typically independent, she says her mother was forced to help her complete tasks she should have been able to do on her own, emphasizing that her life “completely changed.”
“I never thought I’d be impacted by a heart condition,” she confessed. “I think I was in shock at first. It took me a few months to realize exactly what DCM was and how serious it was.”
“I kept asking myself if life was ever going to be the same again,” she added.
Cooke, from South Yorkshire, suspected a flu-like virus in December 2018 triggered the disease, leaving her vulnerable to cardiac arrest. Surgeons reportedly performed a five-hour operation in September 2019 to place an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and a pacemaker inside her to save her life.
“I never thought someone of my age and fitness level could have a heart condition, but the truth is heart disease can affect anyone at any time,” she declared.
She says she could barely wash her hair after the procedure, but just six weeks of recovery time allowed her to start practicing yoga once again — which cardiologists say contributed to her quick turnaround.
“After my surgery, where my ICD with pacemaker was fitted, was my lowest point,” she divulged. “I felt like I’d lost most of what made me who I was. I just wanted my old life back.”
“I wondered if I’d ever be able to do yoga again,” she added. “I was grieving for the person I had been.”
After an ablation procedure in January 2020 — during which surgeons made small burns to her heart to help regulate the irregular heartbeats — her heart reportedly began to beat normally, and she slowly returned to her activities.
Taking it day by day, she now says she feels “a million times better” than before, and she wants to use her experience to raise awareness about the benefits of yoga.
“I also think that yoga has played a part — and my consultant has said he is amazed by my progress,” said the yoga instructor, who also credited the British Heart Foundation, which funds heart disease research.
Now, she’s partnering with fundraising platform Omaze for a campaign to bolster the work of the foundation.
“I also want other young women with a heart condition to know that they’re not alone,” she concluded. “I got fobbed off when I was first ill, but eventually I was checked out.”