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"They say I will die if I have a baby"

November 28, 2018 7:57
Updated November 28, 2018 08:10

This is a rare disorder that causes heart attacks and often affects young women: spontaneous coronary artery dissection (CAD).

This occurs when tears form in one of the heart's blood vessels, which can block blood flow, cause heart attacks, heart rhythm abnormalities, or sudden death.

Doctors often advise women who survive one of these events that they do not have children because the risk occurs again.

Hayley Martin, 47, clearly remembers the morning when her life changed forever.

"I woke up feeling very, very bad, I put my hands on my head and bathed in sweat, I immediately knew that I had a heart attack," he told BBC Victoria Derbyshire.

DEAC occurs when tears form in one of the heart's blood vessels, which can block blood flow, cause heart attacks, heart rhythm abnormalities, or sudden death. THINKSTOCK

Hayley was 38 years old and in good health when she suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection.

Until then the disorder had missed attention and he had never been diagnosed.

But DEAC is a major cause of heart attacks in women of reproductive age, between 30 and 50 years.

And that happens many times without having a history of heart disease or risk factors.

When he arrived at the hospital, Hayley, who lives in Cheshire, England, was afraid of the worst.

"I remember what I said (to the doctors): & # 39; Am I dying? And they just repeated:" We tried to do everything we could but nothing worked, "he said.

"Devaluation as a woman"

Hayley survived, but like many women with DEAC, he was told not to get pregnant because of the risk of another heart attack.

"That was another thing I was robbed of, I would rather not think about it, because doing that led me to the path of sadness," he said.

"I feel humiliated as someone, as a woman, as a failure, as if it were my fault."

What is spontaneous coronary artery dissection (DEAC)?

  • DEAC is a heart disorder that is often undiagnosed.
  • This mainly affects women, sometimes during or immediately after pregnancy.
  • Menopause, extreme stress, and exercise are also associated with this.
  • During a heart attack, suddenly there is a tear or wound in one of the coronary arteries that blocks the blood flow.
  • Can cause death, heart failure, heart attack, and require patients to undergo heart bypass surgery.

Source: Leicester Biomedical Cardiovascular Research Unit, UK

But now, a clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London helps women with DEAC to get pregnant and have babies.

This is the first clinic of its kind in the world and led by cardiologist Abi Al Hussaini.

Al-Hussaini tries to make women make decisions about whether or not they have a BBC baby

Dr. Al-Hussaini analyzed heart damage caused by DEAC and reviewed the patient's medication, usually reducing the amount needed.

With this information, he advises patients about the risk of pregnancy.

The goal, he said, is for patients to make decisions about whether to get pregnant or not.

If he decides to continue, the patient is referred to the "high-risk pregnancy team" from the hospital, which will monitor him throughout the pregnancy.

"I have seen many patients in the past few years who are unhappy because they have been told that they cannot have children," the cardiologist explained.

"That's one reason I set up a clinic, to give these patients the right advice and to enable them to make informed decisions."

Acute pain

One of the first women to help the clinic was Julie Murphy, 40 years old.

Julie Murphy and Holly play with Bella, who was born in April | BBC

Shortly before the honeymoon, in 2013, Julie began to feel bad, as if she had a cold. While on vacation in Kenya, the symptoms worsen.

One day, when he was swimming, he felt a sharp pain in his chest. When he returned home, he underwent a heart test and "the next day he found that he had had a heart attack."

The following days and weeks are very difficult.

"All the drugs they gave me really weakened me and I couldn't even climb the stairs when I returned from the hospital, it was very difficult to understand what was happening," he said.

Like Hayley, Julie was told that she could not have children. But then he began to participate in Dr.'s research project Al-Hussaini and his first daughter, Holly, were born in 2015.

Then he became the first patient in the clinic who became pregnant for the second time. And his second daughter, Bella, was born in April.

Regardless of the hope he gave to his patients, Dr. Al-Hussaini said he had found resistance from several doctors around the world, in terms of how to advise patients.

"In the United States, they oppose pregnancy after a heart attack or spontaneous coronary artery dissection," he explained.

"But I think that's because there hasn't been a lot of research, but there are more studies being done about this."

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