March 29, 2024

Hillary Steffen

In November of 2021, Hillary Steffen and two of her three children developed cold-like symptoms. Hillary then came down with a low-grade fever, body and muscle aches, followed by loss of smell and taste days later. Hillary was simultaneously experiencing extreme pain in her left breast from mastitis, as she was still breast-feeding her 7-month-old. Hillary’s husband, a firefighter and paramedic, helped her as she became more uncomfortable with her arms tingling. Hillary would soon be diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure due to COVID-19 induced myocarditis. 

While waiting for her husband to return from the pharmacy with antibiotics for the mastitis, Hillary began vomiting. Her husband started an IV and administered fluids as soon as he returned to her, but after receiving two liters of fluid there was no improvement. She was transported by ambulance to a local hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19. She was given two and a half more liters of fluid, yet her condition declined rapidly with physicians unable to determine the cause.  She was moved to the ICU where an echocardiogram indicated her heart function (ejection fraction) was less than 10%; a left and right heart catheterization was necessary. During the procedure, a pericardiocentesis was performed to drain 350cc’s of fluid from Hillary’s chest, in hopes that would give some relief to Hillary’s heart, but her heart suffered. The Impella CP® with SmartAssist® was inserted leaving Hillary in stable but critical condition. Immediately following the procedure, Hillary was transported 40 miles away to Providence St. Vincent’s in Portland. Hillary's heart still required more support, so physicians removed the Impella CP® and implanted Impella 5.5® with SmartAssist®. The possibility of a heart transplant was discussed with Hillary and her husband if she did not improve in a few days. 

After 12 days on support, Hillary’s heart function returned to normal and the Impella® was removed. During this time, she was isolated in her room due to COVID restrictions, while her husband remained in the parking lot of the hospital in a RV, only able to see her through her hospital window.

Hillary is now back to her regular routine raising her children and exercising multiple days a week. She has a new podcast, "From Heart to Heart", to help share information about heart failure in women, as well as a nutrition guide to help people live their healthiest lives. She wants women to know that with heart recovery, you can get back to everything you were doing before your heart event. Hillary wants to help women understand the signs and symptoms of heart failure and encourage them to act fast should they experience any of these symptoms.


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