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New mom’s heart arrhythmia triggers novel genetic discovery

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New mom’s heart arrhythmia triggers novel genetic discovery
Wanda Bleau, far left, and her daughters continue to learn about the genetic roots of her atrial fibrillation.

​​​​​​​​​​Wanda Bleau, far left, and her daughters continue to learn about the genetic roots of her atrial fibrillation.

​Five members of the Bleau family share a common gene defect that was previously unknown to cause an irregular heartbeat

When most new moms bring their baby home from the hospital, their biggest concerns are getting used to changing diapers and trying to get a little sleep in between feedings. But just days after giving birth to her first child, Chantel Bleau of Windsor, Ont., felt like she was having a heart attack. 

Chantel, who was 24 at the time, says she had first started to feel symptoms – a tightness in her chest – while in labour.

"I was in labour [a] very long [time], about 18-and-a-half hours, and I kept saying, 'I'm not feeling well,' and everyone kept saying, 'You've been in labour a long time; you're probably just sore,' " says Chantel, now 33 and a mother of two. She was sent home with her husband and newborn, Sophie, but the chest discomfort didn't improve.

"It almost felt like someone had punched me really hard in the chest," she says.