A CARDIGAN woman has spoken out in a bid to raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening illness genetic haemochromatosis (GH).

In Wales, 56,000 people are affected by the UK’s most common genetic condition yet it is rarely known and almost 90 per cent of people will be unaware they have it.

Across the UK, GH directly affects more than 380,000 people but the condition is significantly under-diagnosed.

Untreated, it can lead to iron overload, where the body is unable to process excess iron, which is extremely toxic. GH can cause liver disease, cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, severe joint pain, sexual health issues and neurological issues.

Now national charity Haemochromatosis UK has launched a new initiative in producing a GP pack - including a Welsh language and Wales specific leaflet to make sure that those 56,000 people that could be affected, and often experiences health inequalities, are aware of the condition.

Lisa, a patient from Cardigan, campaigns for awareness of GH in Wales. She said: “In March 2019 the people of Ferwig got together for an evening of curry and song and raised the funds to enable us to print and distribute this information leaflet in Welsh.

“Having this information in Welsh is so important to enable us to reach and engage those communities here in Wales and to make information about GH more accessible to all. “

Speaking about her own diagnosis, she said: “I was diagnosed in 2014 after years of frequent trips to my GP with various symptoms such as joint pains, tiredness and memory fog.

“I was eventually diagnosed because my hair was falling out which prompted my GP to test for GH. People with GH may have a range of symptoms which don’t seem to be joined up, but they are caused by the increased levels of iron.

“I also know that it is easily treated, and I am living a normal healthy life and free from joint pain or fatigue. I’m back walking the Coastal Path and planning visits to beautiful North Wales with my dog.”

Ben Lake, MP for Ceredigion, said: "The team at Haemochromatosis UK are to be applauded for their work in producing this leaflet that will go a long way to raise awareness about the condition in Wales.

“We know that the prevalence of haemochromatosis is greater among individuals of Celtic descent and so this Wales-specific leaflet is particularly important."

For more information visit Haemochromatosis UK