A LOWER Walton mum wants to make residents aware of the warning signs of a hole in the heart after suffering from a stroke in 2012.

Alison Garside is still battling her way back to fitness after a combination of stress and an undiagnosed hole in her heart led to her collapsing on her mum’s bathroom floor.

The mum-of-two said, who was only 44 when she suffered the major stroke, woke up three days later in Whiston Hospital and was unable to speak for three weeks.

She said: “It’s been devastating and not just for me but for the whole family.

“My daughter was by my bedside and I tried to say ‘I love you’ but I couldn’t get the words out, I was just mumbling.

“I couldn’t comprehend at first I had actually had a stroke and it was a massive shock when it finally sank in.”

Alison, who previously worked on reception at the business lounges in Manchester Airport, said she still cannot write, walk or use her right arm properly and had difficulty adding up numbers.

Doctors later found she had a 10mm hole in her heart and told her a number of people can have them without knowing.

Alison now wants to warn people of the symptoms including breathlessness after having surgery to fix the hole.

She added: “I would be breathless just going up the stairs and felt tired all the time.

“It really shocked me when I found out and there are lots of people who will go through life without any problems but I want to warn those who have already got the same symptoms as me.”

Alison, who now attends Broomfields gym every week as part of her rehab said it is thanks to the support of her family and friends she has been able to keep going.

She added: “I would say to anyone in my position stay positive and just keep telling yourself you’re going to get better.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Mild defects, such as holes in the heart, often don't need to be treated as they may improve on their own and may not cause any further problems.

“If the defect is significant and is causing problems, surgery is usually required.

“More and more cases of congenital heart disease are now diagnosed before a baby is born during a routine ultrasound scan.

“General signs of a heart defect include excessive sweating, extreme tiredness and fatigue, rapid heartbeat and breathing and shortness of breath.”