Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Final Diagnosis: SCAD

June 9, 2017

I am a 53 year old wife and mother of two. I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. I exercise regularly and am in great health, or so I thought. In the late evening of April 23rd, 2017 I was brushing my teeth readying myself for bed when I felt a strong pain across the bottom of my breasts, then a tingling sensation in both hands, like when they fall asleep, only more intense. I left the bedroom to the living room and told my husband that I think something is wrong with me when I broke out in a sweat, then came the nausea followed by immediate vomiting. I told him I think I’m having a stroke. He rushed me to the nearest hospital about 10 minutes away. The last thing I remember is the admissions nurse telling me to breath into a bag, that I’m having an anxiety attack and that’s why my hands are tingling.

I was in and out of consciousness until the morning of Tuesday, April 25. My husband had to fill me in on all the details of the past 24 hours. I was sent to the cath lab an hour after my admission. The angiogram showed an extremely narrow LAD. The surgeon that was called in didn’t want to perform surgery because he thought the artery too narrow and that he’d do more harm than good (for this I am so thankful). I had no idea of all the blood testing, xrays, ultrasounds, angio that had been done. My cardiologist came in to tell me I was not his typical patient but that I did have heart disease that can be medically managed. I left the hospital with 9 medications. I was feeling overwhelmed.

A week later I met with my cardiologist again. He shared my angio with several other surgeons, all who said they would not recommend surgery. I was not convinced that I had heart disease because my cholesterol levels had always fallen in the normal range. He decided to refer me to a cardiac specialist at Stanford. A CT scan was ordered. The CT scan revealed a myocardial bridge, not his specialty, so he referred me to another cardiac specialist at Stanford. On June 5, 2017 I met with the new specialist that gave me the diagnosis of a SCAD! The myocardial bridge has nothing to do with why I had a heart attack. My CT scan also showed that my LAD was completely back to normal. I was immediately taken off of all meds. I am to keep the nitroglycerin in case of another SCAD which I was told there is a 30% chance of happening again at any time.

It’s been two days since I’ve taken any medication, my gut is so much happier. I am so grateful to my cardiologist for forwarding my case and not just letting things be. Fortunate that surgery was not performed. Hopeful for a healthy future.