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Advocate Spotlight: Janice Edwards-Jackson

by Joshua B. on Tuesday, May 6, 2014

crafted by Janice Edwards-Jackson, Arizona

I am 34 years old and a stay-at-home mom of 3 children, ages 8, 6, and 3.  On September 21, 2013, I had just returned home after taking my 2 older children to piano lessons.  We were eating lunch when I stood up to warm up my food in the microwave.  The room started spinning.  I thought I was about to have a migraine, since I get them every so often, so I grabbed the counter and made my way back to my seat.  I became sleepy and the spinning would not stop. I told my husband that something was wrong and that I wanted to go to sleep so he helped walk me to the couch and gave me 2 aspirin.  I slept for 3 hours.

2 days later, I went to the doctor and was told it was vertigo/inner ear, but the next day something still didn’t feel right, so I went to the ER at a hospital near my house.  They did a CT scan and MRI and told me I had a brain tumor.  I was terrified.  I was transferred to Barrows Neurological Institute, to confirm the test results, but I was then told that I had a small thalamic stroke.  Learn to spot a stroke FAST by clicking here.

It turns out that my stroke was caused by a congenital heart defect known as PFO (atrial septic defect/hole in the heart). Until this incident, I never knew I had a congenital heart defect (CHD) and a bi-cusped aortic valve.  I went to both physical and cognitive therapy and I currently take 325 mg of aspirin daily. 

Additionally, I had all of my children checked and I found out that my youngest daughter has a PFO as well and that one of her coronary arteries is not completely on the correct side.  The doctor hopes that as her heart grows, that the PFO will close and that the coronary artery will completely move to the correct side.  We are hoping that this will happen by the time she is 5.  If not, she will have to have surgery.

Unfortunately, congenital heart defects are the number one birth defect in newborns.  There are an estimated 500 babies born in Arizona each year with congenital heart defects and of those 125 babies will have a critical congenital heart defect.  Critical congenital heart defects are heart defects that often require major corrective procedures in the first year of an infant’s life.  Thankfully, House Bill 2491 was signed into law by Governor Brewer and now all newborns in Arizona will be screened for CHDs via pulse oximetry screening prior to leaving the hospital.  HB 2491 will save many lives in the future by catching heart defects at the earliest point in life allowing for early detection and treatment.  Visit here for more information.

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Comments (1)

  • Thank you for sharing your story and I hope that your daughter doing well.

    — Lionel P.

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