14 May, 2024

Testing saved her life

AFTER a genetic diagnosis of cardiomyopathy at Cairns Hospital saved her life and raised awareness within her family, Redlynch resident Maylene Rudan is encouraging the community to get genetic heart testing at Cairns Hospital.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Cardiac patient Maylene Rudan (left) and clinical nurse Natalia Morris at Cairns Hospital. Picture: Isabella Guzman Gonzalez
Cardiac patient Maylene Rudan (left) and clinical nurse Natalia Morris at Cairns Hospital. Picture: Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Seventeen years ago, a set of concerning symptoms like intense heart palpitations and blackouts raised alarms for Ms Rudan who decided to go to Cairns Hospital where she received a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, a condition where an enlarged heart muscle causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood well.

If left untreated, cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.

“I was getting a lot of severe palpitations and little blackouts happening. I saw the doctor and got referred to a cardiologist and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy,” she said.

“When my cardiologist Dr Joseph Ling learned I had a brother that also had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, he put two and two together and he said he’d like my condition to be investigated at the genetic testing clinic at Cairns Hospital.

“I had the test done and it was almost 12 months before the results came through and proved that there was a genetic fault that shows as cardiomyopathy.

“Since then, my brother and sister got tested, she came back negative but he also has the gene. My niece has been found to also have it, so now their children will be on the lookout for symptoms and get checked as soon as they show up.”

Ms Rudan said getting tested was easy and free with a GP referral.

“The process was very easy. My family went through a GP and got a referral, it’s quite a smooth process and once we’re aware if we’ve got it or not, it’s up to the family members to follow through,” she said.

“I can’t praise the genetic clinic enough knowing that other members of my family can find out if they’re at risk. It’s also a free service to be tested, which is a great bonus.”

Cardiology genomics clinical nurse coordinator Natalia Morris said the clinic was, not only innovative, but meant patients didn’t have to go to Brisbane to get diagnosed.

“This clinic is designed to give these families access to a well-supported and coordinated one-stop shop, accessing specialist clinical care, ongoing management and surveillance, while using genetic testing to identify those family members who are at a higher risk,” she said.

Genetic testing at Cairns Hospital is available for people between Mackay and Saibai Island.


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