Entries by Somerville Admin

Data leads the way

The Newcastle Freeman Hospital department of Paediatric and Adult Congenital cardiology serves a UK region of just under 3 million people (5% of the total UK population). All congenital abnormalities are recorded on the region’s NORCAS (Northern Congenital Abnormality Survey) database and details of patients and outcomes are held on the departmental database. Access to […]

My life on Warfarin

I have been taking the drug warfarin since I was just six months old. I’m now 23, and when I tell people I take warfarin, they are sometimes confused and shocked. Why would a seemingly healthy 23 year old woman be on a drug commonly associated with elderly heart care? Having had a Fontan procedure […]


Getting older with CHD – Part 2

“acquiring” other conditions This is the second of two articles Written by Dr Leisa Freeman, Consultant GUCH Cardiologist, and Toni Hardiman, Specialist GUCH Nurse GUCH Clinic Norfolk & Norwich University NHS Hospital.  These articles originally appeared in issue 68 (spring 2012) and issue 69 (summer 2012) issues of GUCH News In this concluding chapter on […]

Clinical Research for Congenital Cardiology

From a patient perspective, the concept of being involved in clinical research may be daunting, disconcerting, and unsettling but, equally, it can be rewarding to have the opportunity to increase the knowledge of how best to manage their condition. Congenital cardiology patients (those born with a heart condition) are often excluded from clinical trials and […]


You need an MRI scan of your heart

Written collaboratively by Jonathan Upton, adult congenital heart patient and Helena Francis, Adult Congenital Heart Clinical Nurse Specialist at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust Perhaps these words are familiar to you. Being told by your cardiologist that you need a cardiac MRI scan can evoke feelings of apprehension, even great fear for some. Recently […]

What is an Echo

Written by Jo Quirk, Cardiac Nurse Specialist at Leeds General Infirmary A transthoracic echocardiogram (commonly known as an echo) is a scan of the heart using a machine, a probe and gel. The probe is placed on the chest wall and ultrasound pictures are taken of the heart. Electrodes (ECG) wires on the chest record […]

Managing Your Heart Condition

Since the first diagnosis of congenital heart disease, medical care and treatment have advanced, and many patients are living longer and healthier lives into adulthood and old age. All adults living with a heart defect should talk with a cardiologist regularly throughout their lives about treatments, medicines, and the ongoing and long-term care for their […]

Ensuring the Best Standards of Care

Adult Standards Advisory Group This is writing a set of standards for the NHS in England which more clearly defines the care which should be provided for adults with congenital heart disease. It has representatives of all the national medical professional bodies as well as those from the NHS and legal support to ensure the […]


Big Six Research

DONATE TO THE BIG SIX CAMPAIGN Thank you for joining our fight against congenital heart disease. The Somerville Foundation (TSF) has always worked hard to improve the lives of people who were born with a heart condition. We have a vision of the world where every congenital heart condition is treatable and patients live full […]

Campaigning in Scotland

Campaigning in Scotland We are working with service providers and relevant stakeholders to improve health care provision. On our behalf, Dr Liza Morton sits on NHS Scotland’s Scottish Congenital Cardiac Advisory Board & their working group for developing standards. In Scotland we have campaigned for: Healthcare standards for those in Scotland born with a heart […]


Am I entitled to free NHS prescriptions?

The prescription charge in England is currently £7.65 (April 2012). For residents of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is no charge for prescriptions. Make sure you don’t pay for your prescriptions, if you don’t have to. You can obtain free prescriptions if you are under-16, pregnant, over 60, a student in full time education […]


Travelling as a GUCH Patient

GUCH patient and The Somerville Foundation volunteer Sophie has travelled extensively and is passionate about seeing the world. She has developed a positive, practical approach to planning holidays and here, with the help of some of our members who kindly share their experiences, she explores some of the issues, and busts some of the barriers, […]


Lets chill out

Taking time to relax is an important part of dealing with the stresses that life can throw at us. Learning how to relax is particularly helpful for those times when we get anxious or panicky. Practicing relaxation techniques as preparation for surgery and other kinds of medical interventions can also be really valuable. Some activities […]


Travel insurance

Finding Travel insurance is a must if you are considering travelling abroad possibly the most important thing you need after your passport. The travel insurance market can be a minefield, especially for those with an existing medical condition, so we are happy to be able to offer the services of Insurancewith if you are looking […]


Travel information

This leaflet gives information on travelling for adults who were born with a heart condition (congenital heart condition). Having a congenital heart condition doesn’t mean you can’t travel but it may require a bit of advance planning. It is a good idea to talk to your GUCH Specialist Nurse or GUCH Cardiologist about your travel […]


Lifestyle issues

This leaflet is designed to provide you with advice on some lifestyle choices and issues that may be related to your heart condition. The aim of the leaflet is to provide you with information so you can make the decisions for yourself. Download now 

ACHD & pregnancy

It is a tribute to modern day infant heart surgery that those born with congenital heart problems can now consider having children themselves. Congenital heart defects (CHD) also known as ACHD (Adult congenital heart defects) or GUCH (Grown Up Congenital Heart) complicate about 1 in 100 live births in the UK. Many of these heart […]


Coping With Medical Procedures

Written by Dr Sara O’Curry, Chartered Clinical Psychologist Who wouldn’t get anxious before a medical procedure? Biologically speaking, a procedure is a threat (someone moving towards you with a sharp object) and we are designed to respond to a threat by either fighting it or running away. This is called the ‘Fight or Flight Response’; […]


Know Your Heart Beat

Know Your Heart Beat Heart Rhythms An abnormal heart rhythm is referred to as an arrhythmia. More than 700,000 people in England alone are affected by an arrhythmia (Department of Health, 2005). An abnormal heart rhythm can cause some people to feel unwell or anxious. Some are more serious than others. Some people may not […]


Emotional and Mental Health Resources

Emotional and Mental Health Resources Here are a selection of articles and resources that address some of the emotional and mental health challenges that can arise for people designed to help with living with congenital heart disease. For additional information please see our main page on Emotional and Mental Health. Depression One in five people […]


Exercise Research

We are all aware that exercise is good for us and in the general population, exercise is recommended for everyone to help maintain a healthy weight, keep a normal blood pressure and maintain physical fitness.  We have seen the strength of the cardiac rehabilitation service in the UK for patients following heart attacks and the […]

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary Hypertension The Somerville Foundation (formerly GUCH PA) has joined forces with Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK (PHA UK) and Down’s Heart Group (DHG) to call for the needs of people co-diagnosed with a congenital heart condition and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) to be addressed in the ongoing NHS review and designation of adult congenital heart […]


Ebstein’s and me

Ebstein’s and me by Margaret Smith I was born in 1952 and diagnosed with Ebstein’s Anomaly at birth. The prognosis was that I would not survive with this condition. I spent my first few years in and out of Sully Hospital in South Wales. During this time I underwent two lots of cardiac catheterisation. The […]

Ebstein’s Anomaly

Ebstein’s Anomaly Fiona Kennedy, GUCH Nurse Specialist at London’s Heart Hospital explains the condition Ebstein’s Anomaly, its associated valve problems and the pioneering new surgery describes Margaret Smith in her accompanying article, “Ebstein’s and me”. Ebstein’s Anomaly is a rare condition that affects the tricuspid valve, which is on the right side of the heart […]

Ten Good Reasons To Exercise

Ten Good Reasons To Exercise By Beth Greenaway Recent media coverage has shown that only a small percentage of the population in the UK gets the recommended amount of exercise each week. We are rapidly turning into a nation of overweight, sedentary (non-exercising), unhealthy individuals, who display many of the risk factors for acquired heart […]

Male Health Issues

Male Health Issues By Antony Horner A talk was delivered by Dr Lucy Roche, a registrar at the Royal Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, at our Annual Conference in September 2006. As this is a subject not widely covered, Antony Horner, our website specialist, very kindly took notes for GUCH News. Dr Roche started by outlining […]

Monitoring Excercise Intensity

Monitoring Excercise Intensity By Beth Greenaway Following on from the last article on beginning an exercise programme, I am going to introduce you to methods of monitoring your exercise intensity so that you will be doing your heart the most good. The Talk Test The first, and least accurate, method of monitoring exercise intensity is […]