Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

56 year old female survivor

October 15, 2015

On 4/4/2015, around 2pm, I was cleaning my house getting ready for Easter, when I suddenly felt my right arm, shoulder and neck started to ache and the bone on my throat started to hurt,(hyoid bone- a nerve to the heart runs across this bone). At first, I thought I pulled a muscle. I prayed to God that if this is something serious, this is not a good time for me. I still have Easter baskets to fill and eggs to dye. I looked up heart attack for women and I had all the signs. Within 10 minutes, the pain went away.

I rationalized that I it couldn’t be a heart attack. I have no history of heart problems in my family. I’m in great health. My blood pressure is normal. The only medication I was on was low ogesterol, (birth control to regulate my periods and prevent menopausal symptoms) and I took fish oil for high cholesterol. Around 5pm, I felt the ache in my right arm, neck, and shoulder come back and now tightness across my chest. I told my son to call my husband at work, ( he’s a police officer and used to be a paramedic).

My husband called for an ambulance. They arrived within 10 minutes along with my husband. They ran an EKG which showed an ST elevation myocardial infarction. They gave me 3 chewable aspirins and 3 nitroglycerin pills in the ambulance before I felt better. When I got to the hospital, I was told the Cardiologist on duty and was the best when it came to stents. I was rushed to the Cath Lab. I remember him saying “Her arteries are clear. I don’t know what is causing her heart attack.”

He then realized that the inner lining of my coronary artery had tore causing the flap of the tear to bleed and block blood from passing through. He put in the largest stent he could to push the flap back down in place. Afterwards, he came up to my face and asked “Did you know that you died twice?” I said “no”. “Do remember being shocked?” I said “no”. He said ” Good, that is not a memory you want to ever have.” Then said, ” There was an angel on my shoulders and one on yours!”

He said that I was his first SCAD patient. He had only seen it in a text book. My husband thinks the birth control medication caused this. I never took it again.