Medcheck: Pregnancy may have saved patient's life

A Batesville woman says finding out she was pregnant may have saved her life.{}

"Everything happened really fast. All at once," said Rachael{}Sturdivant.{}"I found out I was pregnant tried to find on OB. Nobody would treat me because of how high my blood pressure was."

Finally, Sturdivant went to UAMS where doctors told her she had a heart defect from birth.

"She was found to have something called coarctation of the aorta which is a narrowing of the aorta," said Dr. Tom Collins. "Which can cause a lot of strain on the heart."

A{}condition that could have and most likely would have killed her.

"They found out the only reason that I'm getting enough blood{}down there{}was because my body had created vessels around my aorta to carry blood pass the coarctation," said Sturdivant.

It's a diagnosis that makes her pregnancy very complicated.

"We have to walk a very fine line," said Dr. Collins.{}"You don't want the mom to be hypertensive, having a really high blood pressure because if it gets really high it can cause problems in the brain. But you don't want it to be too low because if it's too low then the placenta, the baby won't get the blood he or she needs and be able to grow and will have a lot of complications."

Now with less than a month to go, the plan is to do surgery on{}within weeks of giving birth. Hopefully a stent will open up that artery. If not,{}Sturdivant will be facing open heart surgery. All while being a new mom of newborn.

Either way, Sturdivant says she just so thankful for the care she's received.

"Doctor Collins and then all of the OBs, they listen and then tell me their opinion," said Sturdivant.

This is the only program in the state that has specific training for adult congenital heart disease.

And heart disease{}is fairly common... one in every one hundred births has some kind of heart defect.