Eloise was always a fit and healthy child, participating in sport was a huge part of her life. She was a water baby from a young age and as she grew older her passion for swimming never wained. Eloise trained long and hard for most of the year, just like so many kids around the country do. All of her effort started to pay off and she qualified for Age Nationals in 2013, only a few short months before she unexpectedly passed away. Eloise was extremely fit and strong, we would never have predicted what was to come...
Eloise was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) as a 9 year old following an electrocardiogram (ECG) after becoming unwell with an un-related condition. Eloise had never shown any obvious symptoms of having an arrhythmia (none that we were aware of anyway), if she hadn’t become sick at that time we may never have known she had WPW.
In simple terms, WPW is characterised by abnormal electrical pathways in the heart, which can lead to a disruption of the heart’s normal rhythm. This disruption can present symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath and fainting but as with Eloise, symptoms may not always be present or even recognised.
Some of these symptoms can also be misleading or confused for other conditions, alarmingly the greatest risk of all, even though it may be small, is the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Following the diagnosis, Eloise had regular cardiology examinations and when she was 11 underwent a thorough electrophysiology study of her heart with the view to having a cardiac ablation (removal) of the small area of heart tissue where the accessory pathway lies. If this pathway is successfully removed, so is the risk of sudden death.
In Eloise’s case the investigations and testing performed on her heart during this operation indicated Eloise was an extremely low risk to the complications of WPW and in particular, risk of a sudden cardiac arrest. Unfortunately for Eloise, finding the electrical pathway proved very difficult.
Taking into consideration the risks of continuing the search for this pathway, versus the risk of potentially causing other damage to her heart, the medical advice given at that time was to discontinue with the search, so an ablation was not be performed. If the electrical pathway had been found and been successfully ablated, Eloise could have potentially been 'cured'.
Despite this, following the operation Eloise was given medical clearance to continue the active life she led and to carry on with her love for competitive swimming.
Tragically however, on 28th August 2013 a beautiful, healthy and extremely fit Eloise died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep at home. Eloise had only recently turned 15.