AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new report published by the American Heart Association’s medical journal is urging doctors across the nation to collaborate to curb the nation’s soaring death rate among mothers. 

By doing so, these cardiologists can alter a trend the United States is seeing far too frequently.

“Please don’t let me die.” 

For 20 years, Felice Williams has been styling hair. But she’ll tell you motherhood is her most important job.  

But seven years ago, only months after delivering her daughter Elice, she had a scare which could’ve taken it all away just as fast as it came. 

“The pain started getting worse, and worse, and then it began to feel like somebody standing on my chest, I couldn’t even hardly breathe,” Williams said. 

Williams was suffering from a post-partum heart attack. 

“I was praying please, don’t let me die. That’s what I was saying to God. Like, please. I need to take care of my baby. She’s got no one but me,” Williams said. 

The American Heart Association says cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women. African American women are at a higher risk than others. 

“You start thinking about your life, what is important and what was once important is not really important anymore. She’s important, living your life is important for yourself and not for anyone else,” Williams said. 

Today, Williams is better than ever. Her heart attack inspired her to go back to school, studying to become a surgery-tech assistant. 

“Because of the heart attack, I want to research why women are having heart attacks so young and why it’s happening after childbirth,” Williams said.  

And she’s got a new lesson to teach her daughter and other girls just like her. 

“A lot of people think that you have more time to eat right, or you have more time to exercise or a lot more time to start these things. No. You need to start these things young,” Williams said.

What you can do

The American Heart Association said in Texas, 60 to 70 percent of all pregnancy-related maternal deaths can be prevented. 

Along with their regular check-ins with their gynecologist, mothers should make it a priority to see cardiologists as well.