Heart Patient

What are the chances that two young women around the same age, from two opposite ends of the United States, with the exact same medical condition, would meet at Loretto Hospital at the exact same moment in time—one as a nurse and the other as the patient?

The female patient, 29, is a nurse manager at Loretto Hospital. the patient came to Loretto Hospital as a nursing supervisor in April, 2012 and was promoted the same year to manage the medical/surgical unit. In December 2009, at the age of 26, she was diagnosed with having cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease, less than a year after her mother died of congestive heart failure.

“My mom died in 2008 and I didn’t know enough about the disease to help her. All the females in my family have it, and none of them have lived past the age of 50,” Parks-Hamilton said.

The other patient, 39, is a new patient at Loretto who moved to the Austin Community from the state of Montana only four months ago. However, just weeks before moving to Chicago, Dawson began having severe headaches, heart palpitations, and trouble breathing. She sought medical attention while still in Montana and was immediately diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.

Like the first patient, the second patient has a family history of heart disease with a grandmother who died of this same heart condition in 2008, the same year the patient's mother succumbed to heart disease. On January 29, 2013, the patient was rushed to the Kimberly A. Lightford Emergency Department at Loretto Hospital because of warning signs of possible heart failure.

“My heart was pumping so hard and I couldn’t breathe. My nurse (referring to Parks-Hamilton) has been so good with helping me. The doctors here (Loretto) have been diligent about getting tests done and finding the best route to treat me,” Dawson said.

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle when the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick or rigid. Some people show no signs or symptoms, but as the disease worsens, the heart becomes weaker and is less able to pump blood through the body to maintain its normal electrical rhythm.