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Heart failure led to young mum's death - just days after giving birth; Coroner rules that tragic Rachael, 19, died naturally.


A YOUNG mum who died of heart failure five days after giving birth told her mum that a doctor "wasn't listening to me", hours before she died.

Rachael Smith collapsed at her home in Guisborough hours after visiting her GP complaining of breathlessness and chest pains.

The 19-year-old was told that she was suffering anxiety and panic attacks and was prescribed some propranolol.

Two hours after she took the first dosage she died.

Five days earlier she had given birth to son Dylan, now two.

Rachael and partner Matthew Nertney, now 21, were engaged and planned to marry as soon as Dylan could walk his mum down the aisle.

Her family said at the time of her death that Rachael dreamed of becoming a mum.

An inquest into her death was held at Teesside Coroner's Court yesterday.

It heard that Rachael, who had studied childcare at Redcar and Cleveland College, had an underlying condition which had not been diagnosed.

However tests on Rachael's heart, including an ECG, had been carried out in the past and no significant problems were found.

Dr Michael Stewart carried out a review of Rachael's death and medical history and found that he could not fault the work of GP Dr Rajarajan Selvarajan on the day of her death - especially taking into account the previous examinations.

Dr Stewart said that the medication given to her may have contributed to her death but was not SAD NEWS: responsible for it. Rachael's Members of Rachael's family, including her mum Heather Cox were at the inquest.

Mrs Cox told the inquest that following Dylan's birth, Rachael had been suffering bouts of breathlessness, migraines and chest pains.

On June 1, 2010, Rachael went to The Garth Surgery where she saw Dr Selvarajan.

Dr Selvarajan told the inquest that Rachael was upset about the problems she was having and also spoke of her worry of being able to cope once her partner returned to college.

He said: "We were able to have a normal conversation and my belief was that she was having anxiety and panic attacks and that is the reason why I prescribed the propranolol."

The inquest heard that following the appointment, Rachael texted her mum.

One text read: "I don't understand why I would get panic attacks from getting out of my chair."

Another said: "I said that to them but they weren't listening."

Throughout the inquest, Mrs Cox asked witness doctors about her daughter's medical history and why she was not referred to a specialist.

The court heard that a post-mortem examination showed that Racheal had suffered a acute cardiac failure.

It was concluded by pathologist Dr David Lowe and Dr Stewart that it was caused by peripartum cardiomyopathy - a rare disorder which affects women in the final month of pregnancy or within five months after delivery.

we told of in 2010 Mr Sheffield concluded: "Whether the propranolol contributed to Rachael's death was considered not just by Mr Lowe but also by three other pathologists and there was consistency in their views.

"I accept what Dr Stewart has said, that there was a severe underlying condition and on the balance of probability the cardiac arrest which resulted in her demise would have occurred without the drug but it could have occurred at a different point in time."

He recorded that Rachael died of an acute cardiac failure due to peripartum cardiomyopathy.

Mr Sheffield recorded a verdict of natural causes.


SAD NEWS: How we told of Rachael's funeral in 2010 MOTHERHOOD DREAM: Rachael Smith, right and during her school days, left, died of a heart condition five days after giving birth to son Dylan, above. She was prescribed medicine for panic attacks by her doctor
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2012
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