CORONATION Street star Alexandra Mardell found a hole in her heart after her father's death.
The 26-year-old actress, who plays Emma Brooker in the ITV soap, was left heartbroken three years ago when her dad Michael passed away suddenly.
It was discovered he had been suffering from undiagnosed cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle and stops the heart pumping blood around the body effectively.
It led Michael to suffer a fatal heart attack at the age of just 54.
As the condition can be hereditary, Alexandra and her siblings were advised to get tested to see if they had the same gene.
While Alexandra was relieved to discover she didn't, she was told by doctors she had a hole in her heart.
Speaking to The Mirror, Alexandra said: “It’s not related to the cardiomyopathy whatsoever – it’s a total coincidence but obviously an issue I need to keep an eye on.
“I’ve been told that everyone is born with it and it’s meant to close up within the first year. In some cases, like mine, it doesn’t and that can cause problems.
"I sometimes get palpitations and difficulty with breathing. I have always had issues with my breathing when exercising, but I always thought that was just my general lack of fitness.
"It’s nice in a way to have a little bit of an excuse!"
Alexandra has to have check ups every five years and if there is every any issues, the hole can be closed up by medical experts.
The actress grew up in Leeds and remained close to her father despite his separation from her mother when she was little.
Describing herself as a "daddy's girl", Alexandra has found her art imitating life, as her Corrie character Emma is currently dealing with the death of the man she believed to be her father.
Despite the similarities to her real life, Alexandra has been able to take the storyline in her stride.
She explained: "It was a coincidence, but because I planned a lot of my dad’s funeral myself, with the support of family and friends, I was able to grieve properly, so thankfully the storyline hasn’t negatively affected me.
“My experience has helped with my performance, because it’s meant I’ve been able to relate to the storyline – I know exactly how Emma is feeling.”
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