Heart Month: New mom suffers stroke, wakes up nearly 2 weeks later not knowing what happened

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Andrea Engfer was a proud new mom, "The ER doctor basically told my husband that I most likely was not gonna survive."

Her focus was on her new baby, Emma, not on her heart, "Bam, I wake up in the hospital bed, and I’m like what is going on?" 

Just eight days after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, Andrea suffered a stroke from high blood pressure: "I just remember letting out a big scream and then, I don’t remember anything after that."

Doctors say she had a brain hemorrhage and had to be put in a medically induced coma that was only meant to last a couple of days. A couple of days turned into 12.  

"To this day, I still don’t remember a whole lot when I first woke up."

Andrea couldn’t remember how to read or write or how to use her phone: "I felt like a little kid that was starting all over because they had shown me pictures of an apple, and ask what is this, and I wouldn’t know what it is!" 

But she was determined to learn and to be able to read to her little girl, "I’m just um, I’m proud of how far I have come." 

The doctors were amazed at how quickly she was recovering. Andrea says they expected her to undergo several months of rehab. Instead, she got to go home after just a month and a half,  "Going from not being – my doctors not thinking I was gonna survive, and here I am talking with you… It’s just crazy to me." 

After just 6 months from when her stroke hit, Andrea hit the pavement in October satisfying another goal, "No. I’m a badass, I can do this!" She ran a 5k with the American Heart Association, raising awareness for stroke and heart disease, "I did it and I ran the whole thing and I was so proud of myself." 

While Andrea was told her situation couldn't have been prevented, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) also can’t be prevented, Andrea says she wishes she would have known more about the risks when it comes to high blood pressure and pregnancy, "Talk to your doctor about possible risks, that way you are aware of, that way if something were to happen, you know." 

And while Andrea is checking off goals on her list… her mission remains, "There’s a reason why this happened to me… I want to share my story." 

Andrea is advocating for other stroke survivors, "I’m proof that you can do anything!" 

And she is also nurturing her own health and heart by eating right and exercising, "I want to be around for a very long time." 

Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of women and men in the U.S. and across the world.  February is Heart Month.

For more information from the American Heart Association, click here.

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