Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

A memorable labour day weekend 2016 :(

September 14, 2016

Woke up in the morning with a really stiff neck. Thought little of it. Went out for breakfast and when got home stepped outside to let the dog out. As i was standing in the driveway i started to feel limited chest discomfort (that is the scariest part – it was mild), then a strange sensation started up my throat and my arms became slightly heavy. Id never felt anything like this before. I went in the house to lye down and had my eldest daughter call for my husband. My husband came upstairs and suggested perhaps it was indigestion. I knew it wasn’t. Before I lay in bed i had gone to the washroom.

We headed to the ER. I felt like a fraud going in with chest issues because it did not feel severe. The did an ecg and took blood work. An hour later i was told it all looked good and it was looking like good news. As a precaution they wanted me to wait and do one more blood test in 6 hours to test for sign of heart attack. They made clear that that was highly unlikely due to my age and that they were pretty sure it was a virus causing inflammation of the heart. I was certain I would be sent home. Well six hours later the tests came back positive. I was admitted and sent to the icu to await transfer to another hospital for an angiogram which I had the next day.

I was utterly terrified for this procedure and at this point in complete shock. They found a small tear and during the procedure the doctor seemed rather unsure if he should treat me medically or with a stint. He actually asked me and a young female nurse in the room spoke up and said we should do less invasive because of my age. During the angiogram the diagnosis was SCAD – there was a branch of the posterolateral system which had a hazy spontaneous dissection its mid section with occlusion of a tiny adjacent branch. I was told that I was lucky that it could have been much worse. My doctor told me that the chances of this recurring again are minimal. I am terrified that it is going to happen again. I immediately contacted a research team in Canada working on scad and was told that recurrence is 15-25% – that to me does not seem like low odds!

The lack of information surrounding this condition is terrifying. My last night in the hospital the nurse I had had no clue what I had and I had to explain it to her. I have been racking my brain trying to think what could have caused this. I am 34. I am a healthy weight. The night before the SCAD I keep thinking that I had a little binge fest with some sweets that was probably not a good idea. I had just this summer taken up biking a local trail maybe 10km every few days. I also a month earlier had tried herbal cleansing teas. Could any of this have contributed to where I am now? I am definitely going to be looking into some sort of cardiac counselling for myself because like I’m sure many of you feel I am not sure how to deal with this. I have two young children an eight year old and an almost three year old. I feel immense anxiety and keep thinking to myself that I need to see my children grow up and be here for them. But the fear that i am more likely to suddenly drop dead has not left my mind.

I only just got out of the hospital today and I am already showering the internet for answers. As I sit here typing I feel constant tinges in my chest that I’ve been told are normal following what I’ve been through but I can’t help thinking it isn’t normal and wondering when another attack is going to hit.