Heart failure impacts more than 3 million women in the United States. But one woman who took pride in her heart-healthy lifestyle never expected to be one of them.
Brenda Kapp, 54, considered herself healthy. She ate right, exercised daily, and didn’t smoke. But in 2014 she was having trouble breathing and thought it might be asthma.
RARE AND UNEXPECTED
“I had started being just short of breath and wheezing,” said Kapp.
However, Kapp’s doctors suspected heart trouble.
She saw several specialists, but they couldn’t agree on how to treat her, so she drove three hours to Cleveland Clinic where she was diagnosed with a rare and deadly heart condition called giant cell myocarditis.
“These patients tend to be very sick, very quickly, they have a lot of abnormal heart rhythms,” said Maria Mountis, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic. “They go into cardiogenic shock, their heart just becomes very weak, and it’s not pumping out enough blood flow to the rest of their body.”
TURNING TO A TRANSPLANT
Kapp’s heart muscle was inflamed and deteriorating quickly. She was shocked to learn she was being admitted to the intensive care unit, and she needed a heart transplant.
“They put me on the transplant list and had to have a balloon pump to keep me alive,” said Kapp.
After about two weeks -- just as her pump was about to fail -- Kapp received a new heart.
“I really feel that God intervened at my last hours,” said Kapp.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Doctors don’t know why Kapp developed the condition which led to heart failure, but one thing is certain, she’s grateful to be alive and encourages others to speak up when something’s wrong.
“You really have to be an advocate for yourself, and when you’re not feeling well and you are healthy and you think, it can’t be anything, you know, serious because I’m healthy, I’m here to prove that, it, there can be something very, very wrong,” said Kapp.
Kapp continues to do well and is grateful for the gift of life she’s been given.
She said she has learned to not “sweat the small stuff” and plans to focus on the important things in life – her family and friends.