Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Are you kidding me?

September 23, 2023

I always fancied myself as someone who ate healthy, exercised, and took care of myself. I had a hectic life that I always managed well. I am 129 pounds, 70 years old, walk 3-4 miles a day, at a fast pace. I ran 6+ miles a day from age 27 to 47. I thought I had my heart covered; immune to anything, stronger than most.

On October, 2022, my beloved 16 year old little poodle died. Such overwhelming grief. In February, 2023, while at my home in AZ, I fell backwards in a horse stall, when my boot got stuck, and fractured my sacrum in two places. Excruciating pain and 12 weeks of healing. In June, 2023, back in Illinois, two of our horses were killed by a hit and run driver when they got out of their pasture one night. More shock, sadness and grief. In August, 2023, my husband bailed off one of our skittish horses, only to land on a boulder breaking 8 ribs, collapsing a lung and damaging his aorta. He was transferred from a suburban hospital to U of C Hospital, requiring emergency heart surgery, two weeks in the ICU, then developing pneumonia while in the hospital. I didn’t think he’d make it, but he did. Healing will take time.

The hospital was a 125 mile round trip, driving two hours each way in horrible traffic. I had no sleep, I was emotionally and physically drained, and stressed to the max.

I was sitting in his hospital room and my left arm became numb, then my heart became painful as the pain went up my neck. I walked to the nurses station and asked what the symptoms of a heart attack were, and when I told her what was going on, she directed me back into the his room to wait for someone to come see me. Within a minute, about 6 people stormed into the room with all sorts of machines, hooking me up to monitors. The doctor told me my blood pressure was 180; I told her it couldn’t be, but it was. They put me in a wheel chair and took me to the ER. I guess if I was going to have a heart attack, being at U of C Hospital would be the place to do it.

In the ER, the doctor came by to talk to me. He gave me some nitroglycerin, instructing me to put it under my tongue and he said if it works, and it took away the pain, I had a heart attack. It worked. A heart attack, huh? Me? You’ve got to be kidding me!

They performed tests. I had no blockages in my arteries, but I was informed I had a SCAD event. SCAD….a new term. There is a tear, some mild damage.

I spent 3 days hospitalized down the hall from my husband, and after I was released I stopped by to see him, was taken home, and didn’t see him until he came home. I could take no more stress.

Problem is, I don’t think this was my first SCAD event. In December, 24, 2018, Christmas Eve, I wasn’t feeling well and told my husband to take me to the ER. My chest was killing me and I could not breathe. The doctor thought it was a heart attack. Again, more tests, clear arteries. I spent Christmas in the hospital. Again, I was under a tremendous amount of stress, my business was going crazy, and I was entertaining family and not sleeping. The final diagnosis, 4 months later, was viral myocarditis.

I have more tests coming up, seeing a vascular specialist, and taking my meds. Looking forward to getting back to AZ, looking over the mountains, and being away from everything that stresses me out. I am glad I found this site so I can find out more about the research they are doing, and what being a SCAD survivor means going forward. This is all new, but I’m learning and making changes.