ORLANDO, Fla. - Doctors at AdventHealth are seeing more women diagnosed with heart problems at a younger age than normally expected, especially after pregnancy.
Dena Jalbert experienced these heart problems following her first pregnancy.
“What’s going through my head was, ‘Oh, my Gosh, we have this brand-new baby. Am I going to live? Am I going to be able to even be a mom?’” she said.
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Jalbert was being watched for high blood pressure after delivering her first daughter but was later released from the hospital. Once at home, she started having trouble breathing.
“That next morning, my mother-in-law came over and we went back to the emergency room and found I was in the throws of congestive heart failure at the age of 31. I had no idea,” she said.
At the time, she was told she shouldn’t have another child. But after working with a team of doctors and taking medication, she was able to have a second child.
Then, the symptoms came back.
Dr. Patricia Guerrero has seen this before, especially in women who are pregnant and postpartum.
“This is pregnancy-related hypertension. These are called by various names including preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia and pregnancy-related diabetes,” she said.
Another condition that can develop around pregnancy is spontaneous coronary artery dissection, in which the wall of an artery tears and traps blood, preventing it from flowing into the heart.
Women who have breast cancer are also at risk since chemotherapy and radiation can weaken the heart.
Guerrero cautions young woman who are experiencing symptoms of heart problems to see a doctor even if they believe they are too young or healthy to be experiencing the symptoms.
“It’s best to be told you are not having a heart attack or stroke versus missing the opportunity for us to assist or intervene,” she said.
For those who are worried they may be experiencing heart problems but don't have insurance, the Trina Hidalgo Heart Care Center offers assistance.
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