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Woman needs heart transplant after misdiagnosis

New Mexico residents may not have heard of the case of a woman who had a pregnancy-related heart condition so severe that she needed a heart transplant. The woman, who suffered from misdiagnosed peripartum cardiomyopathy, experienced a medical emergency that eventually led to her transplant operation when her daughter was only eight months old.

Though her pregnancy and her daughter's birth presented with little complication, the woman reported feeling sick about two weeks after she gave birth in November 2013. However, her doctors failed to diagnose her peripartum cardiomyopathy, which worsened until an incident where her heart stopped. Her condition was more severe than most women's, and she had to go to an out-of-state hospital for treatment. In July 2014, she had a heart transplant operation.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare condition, affecting one in 3,000 pregnant women. It presents with symptoms that might include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, increased nighttime urination, fatigue or swelling in the feet and ankles. Some symptoms may be mistaken for other pregnancy-related conditions, but if the symptoms are left untreated or are misdiagnosed, the condition may necessitate heart transplants and other intensive medical treatment. Doctors recommend that women take seriously any symptoms they experience during or after their pregnancies.

Although pregnant women may suspect that they are experiencing the symptoms of a serious, potentially-fatal medical condition, doctors and other medical professionals often rush through appointments, especially when they work in busy clinics or hospitals. Unfortunately, many cases of misdiagnosis only become apparent when a patient suffers from a life-threatening emergency such as cardiac arrest. Some women consider filing suit after such medical errors to cover the costs of their medical treatment and other damages.

Source: KOB, " NM mom receives new heart after suffering post-partum condition ", Nicole Brady, Feb. 23, 2015

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