For Many Black Women, Motherhood Is Fraught with Danger and Uncertainty

In this video, cardiology fellow Dr. Joyce Njoroge recounts a memory caring for one emergency room patient experiencing shortness of breath very shortly after giving birth. The patient had a history of peripartum cardiomyopathy (i.e., heart failure that develops during pregnancy), so Dr. Njoroge had reason to believe she was experiencing a recurrence. "While I talked to her in the busy emergency room, surrounded by all of the chaos," Dr. Njoroge says, "I kept thinking, and still to this day think about how unfair it was that she wasn't home with her newborn."

Indeed, no new parent should have this beautiful time overshadowed by the possibility of sudden and preventable death. Yet Black women are up to five times more likely to develop cardiovascular complications during pregnancy when compared to white women of similar health status, background, education level and socioeconomic status. As a nation, we can no longer ignore the healthcare disparities at play.

Visit OWN's Heart Health page throughout the month of February for vital updates and information about cardiac disease prevention.