New mother survives stroke, heart attack after giving birth

Posted at 12:10 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 14:10:30-05

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    OMAHA, Neb. (KETV) — Dana Alm became a mother for the first time on Dec. 2. Her initial concern was that her daughter, Amelia, was born premature. Exactly one month after giving birth, it was Dana’s health that became the point of concern.

“This was something that I didn’t think could happen,” said Alm.

Alm suffered a stroke and then a heart attack.

“My symptoms hit right away. I had the numbness all over my body,” said Alm.

“I have never seen a patient who had both a heart attack and a stroke at this young age, so it is certainly an unusual situation,” said Karl Sandin, the medical director at CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute.

Alm, a seemingly healthy runner and former EMT, did not recognize her own symptoms. She survived the debilitating stroke and subsequent heart attack, but it took away the small joys of parenthood.

“It was hard to even put a sock on her, and that made you so frustrated,” Alm said.

Everyday tasks were monumental, and holding her daughter, “Millie,” was impossible.

“I dreamt of just taking a glass of ice water and swallowing. You know, getting out of bed, using both arms,” Alm said.

Now, Millie and her mother are working hard to get their routine down as Alm recovers. They meet with physical therapists at CHI Health Imannuel twice a week.

“It is really important that we work very hard and use higher-level balance activities to make sure that mom and baby are safe,” Sandin said.

Alm is recovering well and enjoying the small joys of motherhood that were almost taken away for good.

“I can put her socks on. I can change her diaper. I can feed her,” Alm said. “I’m just grateful. You take every day as a blessing.”

Doctors do not know what caused Alm’s heart attack and stroke. She is undergoing testing now to figure out what went wrong. Doctors say it could possibly be related to her pregnancy but that it is extremely rare.

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