Tara Carlson | CHD Awareness Week
Our day six CHD Awareness Week post is dedicated to Tara Carlson! Up to this point, Tara’s heart defect has been considered an acquired heart disease (AHD). However, as more information becomes available, some specialists think it is actually a CHD. Whatever the case, Save the Heartbeat and the CHD community knows she is a brave Heart Warrior. Tara was born on September 6th, 2007 and eight days later she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). In her short nine years of life, she has undergone three surgeries, eight MRI’s and eight PICC lines. In her first year of life alone, she spent 280 days in the hospital, 200 days her second year and a total of 43 admissions in all nine years combined. In the future, Tara will have to receive a heart transplant to remedy her condition. Her parents describe her as feisty, spunky, funny, kind and determined. They say:
We live in constant worry: school (is she missing too much?), her getting sick, do our other kids feel short-changed, insurance, co-pays, we could go on and on. But Tara is all sorts of amazing. She keeps an amazing attitude despite daily challenges. She is kind, helpful, supportive, sympathetic. She never complains about having to wear her monitor to sleep every night (except when she has to miss out on a sleepover she can never go to). She works so hard and just smiles away with everything that is going on.
About Dilated Cardiomyopathy
This is a condition where the heart becomes weakened and enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently as a result. DCM affects the heart muscle, usually starting in the main pumping chamber known as the left ventricle. The ventricle stretches and thins, resulting in strained pumping. “Cardiomyopathy” is a general term referring to the abnormality of the heart muscle itself. DCM is life-threatening and is a common cause of heart failure, as it affects the heart’s ability to supply the body with enough blood. It can contribute to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), blood clots or even sudden death. The decreased heart function associated with DCM can also affect the lungs, liver and other body systems.
DCM affects people of all ages, including infants and children, but is most common in men aged 20 t0 60. It is usually caused by damage to the myocardium, which can be a result of many factors including toxic, metabolic or infectious agents. Symptoms of this heart disease include fatigue, shortness of breath while active or resting, reduced ability to exercise, and swelling in your legs, ankles, feet and abdomen.