(WYTV) – Heart disease is the number one killer of new moms. It can pose a threat to women’s heart health during pregnancy and later in life. Tonight, we talked with a local woman who developed heart disease after giving birth to her twins.

“He was very blunt. We could tell you his exact words, like, there’s three things that’s going to happen — you’re either going to live, you’re going to die or you’re going to stay the same, that’s all there is,” said Jenny Arnaut, of Boardman.

Arnaut didn’t know anything was wrong until it became life-threatening.

“No one told me you could get heart failure from being pregnant. This was never mentioned,” she said.

But according to the American Heart Association, over the last 20 years, severe pregnancy-related health problems have increased by nearly 200 percent, leading to more health issues down the road for women.

Arnaut developed a rare heart disease after giving birth to her twins 11 years ago.

“They really didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

After giving birth, Arnaut was sent home while her babies stayed in the NICU. Two days later, something was off.

“I was laying in bed and I had that death rattle feeling in my throat and I got my husband and I was like, ‘I think we need to go to the ER,'” she said.

After a number of tests, Arnaut was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, or PPCM. It’s an uncommon form of heart failure that happens during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth. Cardiomyopathy literally means “heart muscle disease.”

“Most women go undiagnosed and they die,” Arnaut said.

Health experts say PPCM can be difficult to detect because the symptoms can mimic those of third trimester pregnancy — swelling in the feet and legs and shortness of breath.

At the time, Arnaut says not much was known about the deadly condition locally. She was sent to the Cleveland Clinic for answers.

It’s why she advocates for women’s heart health, especially during pregnancy.

“Trust your body and keep fighting… If I would’ve waited any longer, I wouldn’t be here raising my babies,” Arnaut said.

Today, Arnaut is considered to be recovered from PPCM, but it’s something she’ll have to monitor for the rest of her life.

“There’s still always the chance of having to get that pacemaker put back in but we’re fighting that. I’ll still be on medicines for the rest of my life but I’m doing good,” she said.

Arnaut wants other women to know what’s available to them so they can have a healthy pregnancy, birth and life post-partum.

“Research needs to be out there. Like now, it’s a simple blood test that pregnant women can have that could’ve prevented all of this and it could prevent this whole catastrophe from happening,” she said.