Run for a Cause: Awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)

Run for a Cause: Awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)

On Sunday, 4th November 2019, Greg and Claire Coote will be running the Soweto Marathon to raise awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and the right side of your heart. Greg's late first wife Starese passed away in 2017 as a result of this condition, leaving Greg a single father to their daughter. Since her passing, Greg has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition, in the hope of one day finding a cure.

Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) makes it harder for blood to flow through your lungs, and raises pressure within your lungs' arteries. As pressure builds, your heart's lower chamber (right ventricle) must work harder to pump blood through your lungs, eventually causing your heart muscle to weaken and fail. Treatment can help lessen symptoms and improve quality of life, but to date there is no cure for this life-threatening condition. There are roughly 200,000 hospitalisations per year in the USA for PH and around 15 deaths per year as a result.

Starese was originally diagnosed with asthma, but when she started suffering from extreme shortness of breath that left her unable to even climb a short flight of stairs, concerned doctors delved deeper, which lead to her diagnosis of PH. She began treatment with a specialist in Johannesburg, but after research the couple discovered that treatment in the UK would be covered in full, and so within a month they had packed up their lives and moved. Treatment was successful and Starese began to feel more like her old self, so much so that she and Greg decided to move back home, choosing to resettle in Somerset West in the Cape, as living at low altitude put less pressure on her fragile lungs.

New Lease of Life

Following her miraculous recovery, Starese and Greg made the decision to try for a baby, and not long after that she fell pregnant. The pregnancy went well and the couple welcomed a beautiful baby girl , Micaela, into the world, but just a few later, Starese's medication became ineffective and her PH Flared up again. Doctors put her onto new medication, but it did not control the symptoms of the disease.

The only option was to move back to the UK, where Starese could get the treatment she so desperately needed, even though this new treatment option was still in the testing phase. Starese initially had to go back to the UK alone, while Greg stayed behind waiting for Micaela's VISA to be approved. They were separated for nearly a month, until Greg was finally united with his wife just before New Year 2017.

Admitted to hospital to undergo treatment, Starese seemed to be responding well but on the morning of 7 January, Greg received a call to rush to the hospital. Starese had gone to the bathroom earlier that morning and suffered cardiac arrest. She collapsed on the floor, and was only found half an hour later, by which time various major organs had failed. The doctors and nurses did all that they could to save herm but sadly, it was too late.

Unwavering Belief

Starese faith remained unwavering throughout her battle with PH, and through her blog, she touched the lives of thousands, including many fellow PH sufferers, with her unwavering positivity and encouragement. Greg and Claire now want to share Starese's story to raise awareness of this condition, which is often misdiagnosed, in the hope of being able to help others get early treatment as well as encouraging medical professionals to find a cure.