Family Knowledge Saves Life

Most people know heart disease is our country's number one killer, and doctors also tell us how important it is to know your family's medical history.

But Darcy and Bev Evans illustrate how those two lessons can hit home.

Fifty-eight-year-old Bev got to the point where she couldn't go up a flight of stairs without stopping to rest. She went to the doctor in August, and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.

Dr. Kristen Franklin of the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center says cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle doesn't squeeze out as much as it would in a normal person. That can lead to difficulty breathing and swelling as fluid builds up. In a way, the heart is basically drowning itself.

Dr. Franklin says a normal person's heart pushes 60 percent of the blood back out, but by the time Bev checked into the hospital, her output was down to 10 percent. Bev says she had no idea what was wrong had gotten so bad.

While cardiomyopathy can be caused by coronary artery disease or a virus, Bev's case was genetic. Her cardiologist said Darcy needed to be checked. Seeing her mother's condition, Darcy took the warning seriously. She said if her mother had gotten that sick that quickly, something must have been going on for quite a while.

Darcy was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, too. The good news, though, is she's already taking medication. Dr. Franklin says the earlier you start the medications, the less likely the disease will progress over time.

It's what Bev is counting on for her daughter and grandchildren. Bev's doing better today. She's back to mild exercise. Though Darcy says she hated seeing her mother sick, she also realizes it was a blessing. She says it saved her life.

Darcy had her risk assessment done through the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center's Women's Heart Advantage. Anyone can have an assessment done for a fee. Call 270-4HER for an appointment.

For more information:
www.youknowusbyhear.org
www.americanheart.org


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