Baker in Villefranche de Rouergue, France

Flora, 39 years old

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I had a huge shock when my daughter was born seven years ago. She was my second child. My first birth went smoothly, so I wasn’t worried about anything in particular. I worked until two weeks before my due date and was pretty proud of how my pregnancy had gone. When I got to the maternity ward at the hospital, I quickly realized that the medical team was agitated and people spoke to me in a serious tone. I didn’t understand all of the medical terms they were using. I understood that I had preeclampsia, which I realized later was an illness that happens during pregnancy. It’s a problem with the placenta that leads to high blood pressure and protein in the urine. But I felt very confident and wasn’t afraid at all. My daughter was born really quickly and I was thrilled. All of a sudden, I started feeling dizzy. My stomach hurt and I felt weak. Everyone rushed into action. The doctors were coming in and out of the room and making phone calls. I was thirsty and very tired. I was hemorrhaging from the delivery, had an emergency operation and then a serious complication from the preeclampsia called HELLP Syndrome, a very serious condition where the liver stops working correctly. I was transferred to intensive care. I was bright yellow and swelled up like a balloon. I was very weak, and my life was at stake. I was on dialysis…I was very lucky that my condition stabilized and I was released from intensive care after three weeks. HELLP Syndrome is a super serious pregnancy complication where the placenta develops incorrectly at the beginning of pregnancy. There were no indications that such a twist was coming. They don’t know what caused it. Everything has gone back to normal and I’m really careful with my lifestyle. I’m fortunate to be on an integrated gynecardiology care pathway because I know that I’m at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than a young woman who hasn’t had vascular complications with her pregnancy. It’s important for women to know their pregnancy history, talk about it with their doctor and get regular checkups.




Pascale, 43 years old

Architect from Brest, France

“I didn’t have any chest pain when I had my heart attack. I had gastric pain deep in my sternum and I thought it was bad digestion. I also had pain in my back. I thought it was my spine, which had already been hurting. I tried to soothe the pain with a hot water bottle, but it still spread. I [...]



Mathilde, 28 years old

“I’ve had a heart problem since I was three months old. When I got pregnant last year, I knew things wouldn’t go like they do for other women. My cardiologist informed me of several things. First, my child would come early because my delivery had to be by c-section due to the condition of my [...]



Martine, 61 years old

Primary care doctor (Colmar, France)

I’m 61 and I love outdoor sports, the mountains and nature. Even my bout with breast cancer 30 years ago couldn’t knock me out of the game. Instead, it helped me heal. In 2017, during a period of enormous chronic stress due to family and professional commitments, I suddenly felt pain in my chest [...]


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