Knowledge of Your Health History Can Save Your Life: Serena Williams' Story


Who needs a working knowledge of their own health history? That’s what our doctors are for! They store all the necessary information in their handy, dandy computer systems and it’s all there ready to be accessed when I need it. Until it’s not….

Pregnancy is a “normal” condition that many women experience during their lifetimes, and it can be accompanied by a myriad of new sensations ranging from uncomfortable to painful.

Sometimes, however, this very normal life experience — with all of its weird and unique feelings — can take a turn for the worst. Unfortunately, many women who voice concern about their particular experience are told that “it’s a normal part of pregnancy” or “come back and get checked if you experience x, y, and z”.

Doctors don’t often take a comprehensive look at the woman’s concern because the expectation is that women don’t truly understand how to interpret the new feelings they are experiencing. Every situation is different, and in many cases, a woman’s valid concern can go unchecked. This is why it’s so essential for pregnant women to know their histories and be their own biggest advocate.

Serena Williams’ story

Serena Williams gave birth to her first child, Olympia, in September of 2017. After giving birth by c-section, Williams felt something was not right with her body. Having experienced blood clots years earlier, she knew what it felt like. She told the medical staff she needed “a CT scan with contrast and IV heparin (a blood thinner) right away”.  

The staff initially thought her medications were causing these feelings, but ultimately agreed to run the test. The test revealed several small blood clots on her lungs. Williams knowledge of her own health history AND self-advocacy may have saved her life.

Dr. Sujatha Reddy, MD, spoke on Headline News about Serena’s episode, saying “I think that’s a very important lesson here. She knew her history, she’s had this before, back in 2011, and she knew her symptoms. So, she really brought to the medical professionals’ attention what was going on for her. I think that’s really the key here. You’ve got to advocate for yourself, or have a family member do it for you. In medicine nowadays, you have the ability to really be an educated consumer. I think it’s important to know as much as you can about your medical condition. You have to do some homework, be knowledgeable, know what medications you are taking, know what works for you.” (Source)

Advocating for our health today

If you’re going to be an advocate for your own health, you’ve got to be informed! mCharts helps patients have a comprehensive view of their conditions, treatment, and health-related experiences in a way that’s easy to understand and follow. So whether you’re a pregnant woman or not, there’s a lot to be said about owning your health records and advocating for the care and treatment you and your family members deserve. mCharts can help you stay informed and take control of your own healthcare. Sign up today!

Kirstan Vandersluis