Kerri always suspected there was a link between experiencing preeclampsia with her first child and developing hypertension later in life. She speaks from the heart to share her story.
I am a 48-year-old Aboriginal (Noongar) woman from WA.
I was just 18 when I came close to death during what should have been a happy moment – delivering my first child.
Two weeks prior, I had been diagnosed with preeclampsia, despite feeling well and displaying no outward symptoms. It was something I’d never even heard of or suspected I could be at risk of.
My baby and I made it through, thankfully, but we spent two weeks in hospital recovering.
I had a very supportive family, which helped me pull through the experience, and I was very fortunate to go on to have my second child at age 21, with no complications or signs of preeclampsia.
But I learnt that if we don’t ask questions during ante-natal appointments, we can become at risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with hypertension, and I’ve been on medication ever since. Two years ago, I was also diagnosed with left ventricular hypertrophy.
There is a strong family history of heart disease on my father’s side, as well, so now I pay extra attention to nurturing myself and making my health a priority.
I know that Aboriginal people are at much greater risk of developing a cardiovascular disease such as diabetes and heart disease, and I know the importance and risks associated with having an unhealthy lifestyle. So I try to eat well, avoid processed and fast foods, plan daily exercise, sleep well and minimise stress, although this is easier said than done for many!
I also visit my doctor regularly and am careful to remember to take my medication, despite working full-time and raising a family.
I strongly encourage everyone to have regular check-ups with their doctors, and to take care of themselves. If we can teach our younger generations the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle from the start, then we have a chance of reducing our rates of cardiovascular disease.