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Daughter's Heart Problem: How Did You Advocate For Her Health?

By EmpowHER
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More Videos from EmpowHER 30 videos in this series

Kim shares how she felt when she learned about her daughter's mitral valve prolapse and recalls advocating for her health before her sudden cardiac death.

So my name is Kim. At the age of 24 my daughter suffered sudden cardiac death and we lost her to what turned out to be mitral valve disease. We knew she had a mitral valve problem, about 20% of all women do and we were not as concerned about it as we probably should have been because no one told us to be concerned about it and because young women don’t die of heart disease, but young women do die of heart disease and Jennifer did die of heart disease.

Jennifer was my stepdaughter so before we were married, when she was 12 she was diagnosed with the mitral valve prolapse. It’s the same type of heart problem that her father had – mitral valve disease, and it was not important. So the entire time I knew Jennifer there was just the prolapse and it was no big deal. Her father had the same problem.

When her father got very sick, which he did, we had Jennifer checked again. John actually survived a sudden cardiac death incident so we had Jennifer checked again. She was regularly checked by a cardiologist, but she was basically mostly told to settle down, don’t get too excited, and don’t drink so much Coke.

So it was not a big deal, but for the mistake that we made is we didn’t insist that based on her family history that she be monitored more closely. We only had her monitored once a year and it was a kind of cursory kind to go to the cardiologist, you know, you are 24-year healthy, everything is fine.

So, she actually was changing jobs. She just gotten her second job out of college; graduated from Seton Hall University. She was an accomplished woman. Had her company physical on Thursday and I talked to her Friday night for an hour. We laughed over the fact that the doctor had heard how loud her mitral valve prolapse was and had made a comment of it.

On Sunday she was in a car riding to a concert, told her friends, “I don’t feel very well,” and she died. The hardest thing I had ever done is tell my husband that his daughter was dead. It was shocking.

Was it preventable? Maybe, maybe not, but we probably could have had her more thoroughly examined and more frequently examined and we didn’t get that medical advice and we weren’t smart enough to figure it out because 24-year-old women don’t die of heart disease. So that’s kind of our story.

Conditions: Sudden Cardiac Death, Mitral Valve Prolapse, Heart Disease, Endocarditis, Atrial Fibrillation

Related Terms: Heart Health Advocate, Cardiology, Heart Survivor, EKG, Cardiac Problem, Women's Heart Center, Heart Valve Replacement, Heart Transplant

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