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Local mother struggles with reality of heart condition - KOAM TV 7

Local mother struggles with reality of heart condition

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women and this month is "go red for women" month, a time to bring awareness to the disease. Pregnant women are at risk for a condition that leads to heart failure and the symptoms may not seem out of the ordinary for someone in her third trimester.

Any parent enjoys spending time with their kids. But Vanessa Andrews appreciates every minute building blocks with her two boys. She knows she may not have as much time with them as she wants.

“We talk about how I want them raised, and what I want them to accomplish, and what I expect out of him if I’m not here. We have those talks weekly, so it’s just that is our normal now,” says Andrews.

She had health problems during her second pregnancy but at the age of 22, didn't think her symptoms would lead to anything serious.

“I was unable to lay down flat and I couldn't really breathe and I couldn't really walk a long distance,” she says.

She was diagnosed with peri or postpartum cardiomyopathy and deals with symptoms every day.

“There is, some people think, an antibody attack of the heart related possibly to the placenta, it affects the way the heart squeezes and they develop heart failure,” says Dr. Robert Stauffer with Freeman.

“There’s no days where I just feel completely great and I can get up and do whatever I want,” says Andrews.

The disease is not very common, 1 in 3000 women will be diagnosed

“About half the people will get better, completely better, the heart function will return to normal. About 1 to 2 percent of people will end up getting a transplant, 10 percent won't make it, and there’s this sort of group in between which have pretty bad hearts,” says Dr. Stauffer.

Andrews is in that group, she relies on medication and rest as treatment. She wants other women to be aware that this could happen to them.

“If we had more awareness, people actually could live from this. I was convinced that it was just the flu and I wasn't going to get treatment,” she says.

Tomorrow marks the 3-year anniversary of Andrews’ diagnosis. There’s no way to prevent the disease and doctors say women who are diagnosed can't have any more children because the condition will be much more dangerous the second time around.

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