Lauren Lowrey recalls life-threatening illness after childbirth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – WSMV4 anchor Lauren Lowrey nearly died after the birth of her second child in 2018.

Five days after giving birth to a healthy boy, Lowrey was hospitalized for a life-threatening illness that was initially difficult for doctors to diagnose.

“When I went to the hospital, all of my tests showed that everything was normal,” Lowrey said. “It was maddening because I knew that something was wrong, but the tests showed I was fine.”

Lowrey complained of pain in her back, shortness of breath, a constant headache and severe swelling. Her symptoms started five days after giving birth.

“When I was going through it, I had this feeling that if I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t wake up,” Lowrey said. “My body knew something was terribly wrong.”

Lowrey spent several hours in the hospital in 2018 and was nearly turned away before doctors realized what was wrong: severe post-partum preeclampsia.

“We classify preeclampsia as a heart disease,” Dr. Connie Graves, a high-risk OBGYN at Tennessee Maternal Fetal Medicine in Nashville. “One of the misconceptions about preeclampsia is that it only happens during pregnancy, so when women are readmitted to the hospital, it’s treated as heart failure, or they’re given blood pressure medicine and sent home.”

Preeclampsia affects 1 in 8 women in the US, but in the population where heart disease is more common – as in Tennessee – preeclampsia affects up to 1 in 5 women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and takes the lives of 1 in 5.

In 2012, the American Heart Association named preeclampsia an independent risk factor for heart disease and considered the disease a failed cardiac stress test.

Coming up Friday at 6 pm, hear Lowrey’s struggle to advocate for herself during a terrifying time and how she’s educating other young mothers about the long-term impact pregnancy trauma has on their heart.

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