WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (CBS) — Doctors are seeing a dangerous trend as February ends. There is a growing number of young, healthy women suffering from heart disease and it often goes undiagnosed. Pregnancy can complicate things, too.
Kristina Kelly is getting her life back on track in cardiac rehab at Lankenau Medical Center.
The 34-year-old suffered two heart attacks and that’s not all.
Kelly just had her fourth baby and was at home feeding the newborn.
“And I experienced the worst chest pain I’ve ever felt,” Kelley said.
She rushed to the hospital, where doctors discovered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection.
Main Lain Health Dr. Timothy Shapiro says a case like this is an emergency.
“There is no blood flow through that blood vessel, which should go all the way down here,” Shapiro said. “She had a type of heart attack that’s unusual, but can happen to otherwise totally healthy people.”
Shapiro says Kelly was successfully treated with stents that prop open the collapsed vessels.
“I would just wake up and think, ‘My kids need their mom, my husband needs his wife, my mom needs her daughter,'” Kelly said.
But before Kelly could get home, she had another heart attack in the hospital.
“Right in front of our eyes. That required another emergency procedure,” Shapiro said.
Doctors say it’s unclear exactly what caused Kelly’s heart attacks, but hormonal fluctuations and water retention during pregnancy can be a strain to the heart.
“People who are totally healthy can still have what I call ‘lightning strike’ their heart and something happens totally unexpected,” Shapiro said.
Kelly, who’s recovered now, is getting used to life as a heart patient.
“The doctors and nurses here, they helped me stay alive. They saved my life, but cardiac rehab really taught me how to live that gave me the confidence to get back to normal activities,” Kelly said.
Doctors say cardiac rehab is an important transition for patients to make sure they safely get back in shape and staying active is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy.
Kelly is happy to be back home with her family.