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Cleveland mom uses tragic loss of daughter to postpartum cardiomyopathy to help others

Victoria Thrasher lost her 28-year-old daughter to postpartum cardiomyopathy, now she's educating others about the warning signs.

CLEVELAND — Victoria Thrasher is turning her grief into action, hosting an event that may educate others about a silent killer.

Arnise Thrasher-Hickerson died just three months after giving birth to her first son, Harlem. She and her husband had three daughters and were thrilled for a boy.  

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According to her mom, all of the pregnancies and deliveries were happy and healthy. But a few weeks after delivering Harlem, Arnise started dealing with some troubling symptoms.

She experienced extreme fatigue, sometimes her heart would flutter and she'd be short of breath. All of these things she, and her doctors, wrote off to post pregnancy issues.  

It was 2020 and the Delta surge was in full swing. Arnise used telehealth to see her doctors, but her mother is convinced had someone checked her heart with a stethoscope, Arnise would be alive today.

On Thanksgiving, Arnise felt too tired to go to dinner at her mom's. She sent her husband Brandon and the four children, Chrystalyn who was 7, Summerlyn who was 5, Lovelyn who was 3 and 3-month-old Harlem. 

Later that evening she called her family to ask that they take her to the hospital. By the time they reached Ahuja Medical Center, Arnise had passed. 

Her body was sent to the Cuyahoga County morgue where Dr. Thomas Gilson discovered the cause of death. Victoria says Dr. Gilson called her to tell her that Arnise died of postpartum cardiomyopathy.  

According to the American Heart Association: 

It's an uncommon form of heart failure that happens during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth. Cardiomyopathy literally means heart muscle disease.

PPCM is a dilated form of the condition when the heart chambers enlarge and the muscle weakens. This causes a decrease in the percentage of blood ejected from the left ventricle of the heart with each contraction. That leads to less blood flow. Then the heart can’t meet the demands of the body’s organs for oxygen, affecting the lungs, liver and other body systems.

PPCM is rare in the United States, Canada, and Europe. About 1,000 to 1,300 women develop the condition in the U.S. each year. PPCM is much more common in some countries and may be related to differences in diet, lifestyle, other medical conditions or genetics.

PPCM may be difficult to detect because symptoms of heart failure can mimic those of third trimester pregnancy, such as swelling in the feet and legs, and some shortness of breath. More extreme cases include severe shortness of breath and prolonged swelling after delivery.

During a physical exam, health care professionals will look for signs of fluid in the lungs. They will use a stethoscope to listen for lung crackles, a rapid heart rate or abnormal heart sounds. An echocardiogram can detect cardiomyopathy by showing the diminished functioning of the heart.

Victoria now has a mission.  She wants to educate others about the condition that took her daughter.  

This Saturday from 1:00PM to 4:00PM she's holding an awareness event at the Zelma George Recreation Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Cleveland. 

Registration is required and those interested can access more info by scanning the below QR code with your phone or clicking on this LINK. 

Credit: Victoria Thrasher

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