February is American Heart Month
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Feb 28, 2023) – A young Mesa mom is encouraging women to take charge of their heart health after she was diagnosed with a dangerous heart condition while pregnant with her first child. Jocelyn Davis, 25, says she is thankful to a team of Dignity Health in Arizona cardiovascular and obstetrics experts who closely collaborated on her prenatal care and helped her deliver a healthy baby girl after undergoing an urgent heart procedure.
Jocelyn was just 15 weeks pregnant when she was taken to Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center after fainting in her kitchen in November 2021. The hospital’s emergency department team gave her a wearable heart monitor to track her heart rhythms for two weeks. At her follow up appointment at the Dignity Health Heart Arrhythmia Center at Chandler Regional, Jocelyn learned she was suffering from irregular heartbeats and her condition was serious enough that she would need a pacemaker right away.
“It didn’t really set in until I called my mom,” said Jocelyn. “I was really worried about the baby and nervous about having heart surgery while pregnant. I never expected anything like this to happen to me.”
Jocelyn drove straight from her follow up appointment to Chandler Regional where she and her baby were closely monitored leading up to the successful procedure where a pacemaker was placed in her chest to help control her heartbeats.
During this time, a multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular and obstetrics experts from across the Valley, including members of Dignity Health in Arizona’s maternal heart council, collaborated on a plan of care for the remainder of Jocelyn’s pregnancy.
“Pregnancy is a stress test on the heart,” said Dr. Rachel Bond, a cardiologist with Dignity Health in Arizona. “Certain conditions that women develop during pregnancy can actually reveal whether they are at a greater risk for stroke or heart disease in the future. In Jocelyn’s case, we knew it would be imperative to closely monitor Jocelyn’s heart for her safety and for the safety of her baby.”
In addition to routinely meeting with her obstetrician, Jocelyn also regularly met with Dr. Bond to monitor her heart health throughout the remainder of her pregnancy, which was now considered high-risk. During these visits, Dr. Bond and Jocelyn would discuss important symptoms to watch for such as persistent dizziness and extreme swelling or weight gain which could be related to heart disease, not just common pregnancy ailments.
“In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and those who gave birth within the last year,” said Dr. Bond. “It is incredibly important for providers to educate their patients on the signs and symptoms of heart disease so women feel empowered to connect with their doctor if something doesn’t seem right or call 911 in an emergency.”
In an effort to reduce the risk of heart disease in pregnant women, Dignity Health in Arizona has developed a heart health passport that provides patients with information on the signs and symptoms of this condition and the ability to track their vitals throughout their pregnancy among other resources.
Jocelyn’s blood pressure continued to be closely monitored by her obstetrician and cardiologist. When Jocelyn was 37 weeks pregnant, she was diagnosed with gestational hypertension, a high blood pressure disorder. Jocelyn’s care team was concerned that this could lead to complications to both mom and baby, so she was scheduled for an induction at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. On April 26, 2022, Jocelyn and her husband, Kevin, safely welcomed their daughter Melody.
“The whole delivery process was a whirlwind,” said Jocelyn. “Since my pregnancy was high risk, I had people monitoring my heart, and monitoring the baby as they are wheeling me to the operating room to push. There were so many doctors and nurses there to take care of us, and I was so relieved once Melody was finally in my arms.”
Jocelyn continues to see Dr. Bond for preventative cardiac care in her postpartum period, and encourages other women to take charge of their heart health.
“Prior to this experience, I never worried about my heart health,” said Jocelyn. “I now know how important it is to learn the signs and symptoms of heart disease and encourage other women to listen to their bodies and follow the advice of their doctors because it could be lifesaving.”