Humans of Los Altos: Richa Krishna

Courtesy Richa Krishna

Courtesy Richa Krishna

In December 2015, sophomore Richa Krishna was diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare condition that affects 200,000 people in the US today. The condition causes the heart muscles to abnormally thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. Through the process of healing, Richa has had to, in some ways, sacrifice one of her greatest passions; dance.

“I found out that I have a heart condition that was caused because I was dancing too much and my heart couldn’t take the intensity,” Richa said. “Anytime that I was at dance I could have died. It was scary to know that. Dance was one of the biggest parts about me and while I’m obviously disappointed I had to stop, I know I’m not fully defined by my condition.”

Richa has made incredible strides in the world of dance and has been dancing for eleven years non-stop, dancing on the pre-professional level and training every day. Since her diagnosis, Richa has maintained her love for dance, but has had to give up prestigious summer programs. Although she has not had to give up dancing entirely, she has had to severely reduce her hours, from three hours daily, seven days a week, to one and a half hour classes, two days a week.

“It’s hard to see others being able to dance when I can’t and [it’s hard to see others] being able to do stuff and compete and be at the studio after I’m done with the first class,” Richa said. “I have to stop and go home while other kids can go do other variations. I can only go two days and it is an hour and a half each but still that’s more than I’m supposed to be doing.”

While her condition prevents her from continuing dance at the level of intensity that she used to, Richa’s personal drive is as strong as ever. She now focuses that time and energy on exploring different areas of interest and pursuing her other passions, like photography. She currently owns a small business on etsy called “Kaleii” that sells handmade crafts, and also participates in ballet photo shoots.

“Instead of doing [dance] intensives over the summer, I’ve gotten to do entrepreneurship programs and I get to spend more time making things and working on my little business,” Richa said. “I’m interested in bio-genetics because my condition is a genetic condition and last year in biology, I found out about it right before the cardiovascular unit so that made it really interesting.”

Richa has decided to make the most of her time by thinking of ways she can also help others who suffer from the same condition.

“I have a lot of ideas for people with conditions like this, especially for dancers,” Richa said. “When I’m in class, the doctors want me to have a heart rate monitor with a giant bulky watch and wires all over my body. I don’t want to have that so I have more ideas I want to pursue like monitors and heart rate trackers, things that I would need.”