VERMILION — Hilary Mankin, a 20-year-old Vermilion native and Bowling Green student who died suddenly in May, died of myocarditis, according to Wood County coroner Douglas Hess.
Mankin, who graduated from Vermilion High School in 2010, was found dead in her off-campus apartment May 16. Friends said although Mankin was feeling ill for a few days, the death was unexpected.
Hess said myocarditis can be associated with any viral illness and was likely sudden, not a chronic illness. Myocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the heart and can cause an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and pressure in the chest.
Hess said that death from myocarditis is very rare in young people, but he has had some other cases throughout the years.
“She was basically a healthy college student … it’s really unfortunate,” he said.
One of Mankin’s friends said that Mankin was exhibiting symptoms similar to that of a stomach illness. She reportedly visited the university’s health center and had been put on a restrictive diet.
Hess said myocarditis can occur suddenly, and the symptoms may not have been present during Mankin’s visit to the health center.
Dr. Doug McDonald, vice president of medical affairs at EMH Medical Center in Elyria, said myocarditis can be difficult to diagnose as it can exhibit mild flu symptoms and not affect the heart but also can cause sudden heart failure and even death.
“There are people out there who have myocarditis who may not even know it or have any symptoms,” he said.
McDonald said some cases of myocarditis do not need treatment while some people affected by the disorder may require a heart transplant.
He recommended anyone experiencing heart palpitations, shortness of breath or chest pains visit a doctor immediately.
“Those with chest abnormalities that we would tell anyone to check out, especially if it’s combined with a viral illness like a flu where you wouldn’t expect these symptoms to occur (should visit a doctor),” he said.
Hess said the trouble is most young people feel that they are resilient and do not seek medical help.
“There are not very many things that cause the death of young people. The bad thing is, it’s usually the unexpected illnesses or accidents that cause it,” he said.
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