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Lucy Arnette and her mum Pauline.

Lucy Arnette and her mum Pauline.

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LUCY Arnette is the picture of health.

At 21, the fitness instructor from Blackpool is a great role model of a healthy lifestyle.

She eats a balanced diet, she runs, she takes part in exercise classes on a regular basis.

And to look at Lucy, you would have no idea she has a serious heart condition.

She was born with heart problems and had to undergo open heart surgery at the age of just 18 months.

Surgeons had to repair two holes in her heart and fix a leaking valve.

Medics said she would need further surgery to replace the valve as she got older, most likely in her teens.

But Lucy has defied medical odds by taking doctors’ advice to make sure she exercised to help keep the heart healthy.

At 21, it is only this year she is likely to need major surgery again.

Now she and her family are gearing up for a fundraising Valentine’s walk for the British Heart Foundation around the grounds of De Vere Village Heron’s Reach, on February 10. Proud mum Pauline said: “The doctors have said Lucy’s fitness is the reason her heart valve has lasted so long. Lucy is the absolute picture of health.

“She trains and works out, all within the plan set out for her by the cardio physios at the hospital in Manchester, so she stays safe.

“She will be taking part in the walk along with friends and colleagues from Palatine Leisure Centre where she works.

“It will be a lovely event and as always we have fantastic support from the De Vere.

“When Lucy was born, she seemed perfectly healthy, no problems, but when she was around seven months old, at a routine check, doctors discovered she had a heart murmur.

“After a few months and more tests, they found she had two holes in her heart and she had to undergo open heart surgery at Alder Hey in Liverpool. The doctors told us it was about as bad as it could be.

“But she has from an early age taken on board the doctors’ advice about living a healthy lifestyle. She got into exercise and then made it her career by becoming a fitness instructor.”

Lucy said: “I just enjoy exercise and keeping fit.

“I’m supposed to have lots of symptoms with my condition, like swollen ankles, breathlessness and palpitations, but I don’t really get them.

“I have the occasional palpitations, but I can still run, I can still take part in classes like Body Pump and Body Combat.

“I can work to 70 per cent of my maximum heart rate – I just have to monitor the intensity and keep it moderate.

“I find it really rewarding to work with people referred to the gym by their GP with heart issues, with diabetes or high blood pressure. I love helping people to become more active and seeing them make progress and reach their goals – whether it be to lose weight or get fitter or run further.

“I hope I can raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and to show having a serious heart condition doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t lead a normal life.”

Pauline added: “She is a great example and shows everyone there is life after surgery. It’s amazing what people can do if they keep fit.

“We hope the walk will raise awareness of heart health and the BHF, as well as raising money.”

To take part, call Pauline on (01253) 399217 or Barbara Dunn from the British Heart Foundation on (01772) 641870 or email dunnb@bhf.org.uk