Pamela and Anthony – Interview 11

We spoke to Anthony and Pamela after they took part in screening for unrecognised heart valve disease. Both were told they had minor problems and were invited to attend another appointment. We spoke to Anthony again after this appointment. Sadly, Pamela died of another illness during this time.

Anthony received a letter asking if he;d take part in research looking at screening people for previously unrecognised heart valve disease. He used to work as an engineer in a research organisation, so he feels strongly in favour of medical research and quickly decided to take part. Pamela rang to make the appointment for him, and was asked by the receptionist if there was anyone else in the house aged over 65. She said she was, and that she would also like to take part. Both of them saw themselves as generally fit and active, and did not worry much about their health, but would rather find out early if there is something wrong. Pamela continued to go for breast screening every 3 years, even after passing the age when women are automatically included, and was very glad she did as she was found to have breast cancer, which was successfully treated.

So Pamela and Anthony went to the health centre together and had heart valve screening appointments one after the other. The fact that it was local was a bonus – they themselves would not have minded going to the nearest big hospital if necessary, but thought some other people might have been put off by that. Anthony found it particularly interesting to see the technology used, and they both thought the person doing the screening was excellent and very pleasant. Pamela was told she had some narrowing of the heart valves, while Anthony was told he had a leaky valve. They were both reassured that this was not unusual for people of their age and probably nothing to worry about. At the time of the first interview, they were told they may be invited for a further appointment, and both would be happy to attend this.

Six months after the initial appointment, Anthony attended a follow-up at a hospital. We spoke to him again after this appointment and were saddened to learn that Pamela had passed away suddenly of a condition that was unlikely to have been related to the heart valve problems uncovered by screening. Unsurprisingly, Anthony was greatly upset by her death, but was keen to share his experiences with us. He reported that he was not worried or anxious during the time between the appointments. The procedure was the same as before and did not take very long. The results indicated that there had been no change in his condition since he was first screened.

Anthony says he is not particularly anxious about the leaky valve and it has not affected his levels of activity, but occasionally he does think about it. Both he and Pamela reported that they were well informed and had positive views about the good care they received, both as part of the screening research and when Pamela was being treated for breast cancer. Their advice to anyone else asked to take part in research was to take up the offer, as it may help you personally as well as helping the research.

Anthony and Pamela appreciated getting detailed results in the letter. If they had wanted more…

Age at interview 78

Gender Male