Kristina’s Story

Feb 9, 2024 | Patients and Families

Kristina is a personal trainer, cycling coach, and former competitive endurance athlete whose entire life was turned upside down when, at the age of 40, she was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

In 2015, Kristina was suffering from near-fainting episodes during bike races and hard workouts. These symptoms became more frequent to the point where she could easily replicate them on a 24-hour Holter Monitor test. The moment the technician saw the results, she was called into the Emergency room, and her life was forever changed. With her identity so closely tied to fitness and exercise, the diagnosis devastated her, and it took some time for Kristina to accept her disease. The fact that we live in Canada, where medical care is universal and therefore free, likely saved Kristina’s life. While racing at her peak fitness, there was very little indication that she was in any danger. She shudders to think of what could have happened had she continued to race, undiagnosed.

Forced to make so many compromises to both her lifestyle and business was a mental battle for Kristina. And yet, it was through this struggle that she discovered an entirely new and exciting world outside the realm of exercise. Through her struggle she also gained a greater appreciation for life, and everything that she is still physically capable of doing. Riding an electric bike, Kristina continues to coach her cycling club and has adjusted her active work schedule so it doesn’t compromise her health.

Kristina has always been passionate about helping others live their best lives, and now that passion extends to the SADS community and specifically patients, like her, who are feeling overwhelmed with a life changing diagnosis. In 2023, Kristina published a memoir, Athlete at Heart, with the hope that her story would offer hope and some coping tools to help patients find their own path forward. Being diagnosed with heart disease is a daily reminder for Kristina that life is precious, and she is determined to make the most of her time on this earth.

“Athlete at Heart takes the reader into the tortuous world of medical diagnosis, through the emotional turmoil of acceptance, and finally to the transformative world of recovery. Her story is one that will be appreciated by anyone whose life is suddenly disrupted by a medical condition.” – Martin Hosking, MD Cardiology

During Heart Month, Kristina will be donating $2 from every sale of Athlete at Heart to supporting the mission of The Canadian SADS Foundation.