March 29, 2024

Caitlan Kane

Healthy and active Caitlan Kane was 34 and pregnant with her third child. At 28 weeks pregnant, Caitlan experienced preterm contractions, high blood pressure, water retention, rapid resting heart rate, and fatigue. Doctors attributed her symptoms to normal pregnancy pains. But after giving birth at 39 weeks to her daughter, Madelyn, her blood pressure remained high, and she was exhausted; she was surprised doctors had discharged her. 

Only hours after returning home, Caitlan experienced shortness of breath and a full body sweat. Caitlan returned to the ER where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was prescribed an inhaler, steroids, and antibiotics and once again sent home. Caitlan’s breathing declined further and she decided to return to the ER for a second time. This time, physicians discovered her condition was much more severe; Caitlin was in heart failure.

Caitlan was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) a rare form of congestive heart failure that is associated with pregnancy. At the time of discovery, her ejection fraction was only 15% (compared to the normal 55-65%.) Fortunately, Caitlan’s primary care physician was at the hospital when she returned for the second time. He decided to perform an ECHO, which ultimately confirmed her diagnosis. Without his foresight, the outcome may have been very different. 

Caitlan spent a week in the ICU and the first year of her daughter’s life fighting for her own life. Through her determination and the support of her medical team, Caitlan recovered and returned to a normal quality of life.

Caitlan believes ‘purpose’ is one of the ingredients critical to her survival. Her purpose is to save someone else’s life and to change the outcomes of other women with PPCM. Caitlan is here to have more days with her three children and her husband. Since her heart event she has acted by joining the board of a survivor group that meets annually to raise awareness and help fund research specific to her disease. She is on the heart and vascular advisory board for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, and recently co-founded a local non-profit called Sisters@Heart which helps local families struggling with heart and stroke disease.


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