A MOTHER has climbed a mountain in honour of raising awareness for heart disease in young people.

Since childhood, Alexandra Ellis, from Darlington, has spent her life in and out of hospitals, undergoing major operations on her heart after she was born with a defect.

At the age of 12 she was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect– a hole in the wall of the two upper chambers of the heart, which resulted in three separate heart surgeries.

“For years after the surgery I assumed that everything was fine, but then two years ago I was diagnosed with heart failure. It was a huge blow, and very hard to come to terms too, the news effected me massively,” said Ms Ellis, an Ambassador for the British Heart Foundation.

“I can’t live my life the same way a normal 29-year-old would. I have to battle with constant fatigue, and I have a heart rate of 130bpm regardless of medication. Day to day life can be very exhausting.”

Refusing to let this set back stop her from living her life to the fullest, Ms Ellis agreed – although reluctantly at first – to join her partner Darren Brown in climbing the 2,811 feet of Blencathra mountain in the Lake District.

“Darren is a fitness fanatic and so he persuaded me to join him on the climb,” said Ms Ellis. “The walk was organised by Robert Proud Fitness in Bishop Auckland, who were amazingly supportive of me deciding to take on the mountain with my condition.

“I was scared that I might trail behind, but the organisers were very understanding and kept with me the entire time.”

Ms Ellis said she saw climbing Blencathra as an opportunity to raise awareness for heart disease, especially in young people, where it is commonly overlooked.

“Heart disease is considered to be something which only effects older people, or a condition which comes with age.

“I’m proof that’s not the case.

“I wanted to show other people with the condition that if I can struggle my way through this, other people can too.

“Darren, who has stood by me through everything, believed in me and now I do too.

“We’re not thinking about life expectancy, instead we have a ‘first experience’ checklist and together we plan to do them all and live life in the moment.”