Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

2 heart attacks in 2 days and nobody believed me until it was nearly too late

January 29, 2016

12/01/16 Tuesday: Just before 9 am I was rushing to take my children to school and we ran for about 2 or 3 minutes from the car to the school, it wasn’t a super fast run but I felt breathless with a very strong pain in my chest and back as if I was being squeezed from both sides, my throat went really dry and it was hurting to breath, I started to feel dizzy and shaky all over, it was a cold day but I was sweating a lot under my armpits, it was very scary but I walked back to the car and sat there for a while to see if I would feel better.

After a while, perhaps 2 minutes later It didn’t get better and I drove back home
I had a shower to see if I would feel better but I didn’t, I started to get a warm rushing feel from my armpits down to my hands

I was really scared and called my husband, I recognised these as heart attack symptoms but I’m 43, slim, healthy, active, “it couldn’t be”

He suggested that I would call NHS Direct to get some advice, so I did

I had to answer a lot of questions until I was allowed to explain what I was feeling, I could hardly breath

The lady on the phone told me to calm down and to book an appointment to seen by my GP on that day

It didn’t seem to be an emergency and I felt a bit more relaxed but not with less pain or discomfort

I called the medical centre and explained the situation and that I was advised to see a GP, I really tried to get a quick appointment but no luck

The lady on the phone suggested that I would go to a walk in centre instead, so I immediately drove to the walk in centre in Weybridge

There I had to find parking, put money into the machine, stand in the queue for the receptionist to take my details, once again I explained what I was feeling and asked if I could be seen quickly, she said that it wouldn’t take too long and told me to sit in the waiting room

The place was packed full, I waited for over 40 minutes until I was called by a female doctor

I explained everything to her, she measured my blood pressure, heart ratings and temperature, all readings were normal and she said that my symptoms were probably caused by stress, being unfit and breathing cold air while running and then she discharged me

I left feeling relieved that I wasn’t dying as I thought I was and straight from there I went to a busy day at work

The pain was still there but it got better, I wasn’t shaking anymore, I was breathing with some discomfort but not too bad and these feelings were present throughout of the whole day and night

I felt exhausted and went to bed early that night

I had discomfort the whole night and didn’t sleep much

13/1/16 Wednesday: I woke up the usual time, feeling more tired than before I went to bed but got on with our morning routine and just before I went out of the door I had the same horrible pain with all the details from the previous day with the additional discomfort in my lower jaw, it felt like it was cramping

I got really scared again but I drove the boys to school, I didn’t walk with them the whole way and rushed to West Byfleet medical centre, there I explained to the receptionist what I was feeling and asked if someone could have a quick look at me

She said not until after 10.30 am, it was about 9am, but I could book an appointment for 5.10 pm, so I did

From there I went to work, struggled with pain and discomfort the whole day

Finally 5.10pm at my appointment I was seen by a young doctor, she took my blood pressure and everything seemed to be normal again, I was so frustrated at this point and started to cry

She thought it was a good idea for me to go to the emergency hospital to have a blood test and I drove to the hospital, arrived there at around 7.15 pm, again explained what I was feeling to the receptionist and she asked me to sit and wait in this place with more than 20 people who arrived before me

I had to wait a long time to have the first contact with someone from their team, she took blood pressure, temperature and heard about my symptoms, I waited again for a very long time until I was called for some blood tests

3 samples of blood were collected, one to check for infection, another for liver and something else and a 3rd one for blood clot

Again back to the waiting room for another long wait

Then I was called by a young doctor, after listening to my story she told me that I was fine, she saw the results of my readings and everything was fine, she decided to send me to an X-ray of my chest while we were waiting for the results for the blood tests

Back to the waiting room for perhaps another 40 minutes, I was called for a second run of blood tests, at this point there was a bit of urgency in their faces but nobody explained anything to me

At 11.15pm they asked me to lay down on a bed and the whole treatment was different

They were finally treating it as an emergency, I was still in pain, extremely tired and uncomfortable

After that they told me that I would spend a night in hospital for some tests, they gave me some medicine and I felt better

I was transferred to a big room where they had nurses present at all times, a machine was monitoring my heart and blood pressure, other doctors came to talk to me asking to describe what happened

14/1/16 Thursday: I was transferred to Acute Cardiology

I was very well looked after, nurses were checking on me round the clock, giving me medicine and making me feel as comfortable as possible

Another doctor asked if I would like to authorise The University of Surrey to do some studies of my case and I accepted it

A professor came to explain to me about a procedure they were going to perform called Angiogram which is basically having a camera to go from my groin to the heart to see where the damage happened

Procedure went well, it didn’t last long, they found out that it was a spontaneous rupture of a secondary artery, an unusual type of a heart attack due to a condition called SCAD

The rupture was in an area of no much ramifications so not too bad

Back to the intensive care, I was given morphine for the pain and other things to regulate blood pressure and such, It was sore but not unbearable

15/1/16 Friday: still in the intensive care being monitored, everything going well, no much pain, blood pressure quite low, feeling light headed and very tired

Had a CT scan of my head, neck and chest

16/1/16 Saturday: Discharge day, apparently out of risk

I’ll have to return for another CT scan during the week and to hear from the doctor about the outcome of all procedures and tests

I have seen my GP and he gave me a repeat prescription for some medicine that I have to take daily for the rest of my life

It was dangerous and I am extremely lucky to be alive considering the natural danger of the situation added to the lack of knowledge and preparation of the GPs and receptionists

During a heart attack time is crucial, no chest pain is normal and shouldn’t be ignored
There is an enzyme called Troponin that can be found in blood only if u have a heart attack, this enzyme is released when heart cells die.

Normal count of troponin is up to 50 and mine at the emergency read 40666

That’s when they realised that I was in desperate need for help