Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

I’m only 36, how can I be having a heart attack?

February 16, 2024

I woke up on a Saturday morning (January 8, 2022) with back pain that progressively worsened, wrapping around my torso and eventually numbing my arms and hands. It was super cold that morning and I was sweaty and shaking. After suffering for an hour and googling my symptoms we called 9-1-1. Every symptom pointed to a heart attack. Here I was, a fairly healthy 36 year old with no chronic health conditions, why was this happening to me!? I didn’t want to believe the EMTs when they did the EKG, said it was a heart attack and we needed to go. Saint Ann’s was the closest despite my begging to go to OSU.
Once I was through the ER and in the cath lab, they discovered I had a SCAD heart attack, a spontaneous coronary artery dissection. My artery tore internally and created a blockage that caused a heart attack. This isn’t a regular heart attack, those are caused by a plaque blockage. Three stents later and almost 90mins in surgery and the pain was gone. I was awake and alert during all of this and never lost consciousness. I was in the ICU for 2 days and got covid as a parting gift. My discharge from the hospital was less than ideal and left me frustrated, confused and angry. I went back to work in late February and was on FMLA through the summer.
2022 was full of medical appointments, CT scans, echocardiograms and a cardiac MRI, rehab/physical therapy, wearing a heart monitor and diet changes. I’m on a blood thinner and 5 other meds for the rest of my life. I also have heart failure since a small section of my heart is dead. Many people who have these heart attacks go on to live long lives while being managed by a cardiologist.
A heart attack can happen to anyone even a young, healthy person. If you think something is wrong, call 911 or go to the ER. Chest pain, numbness in your hands or arms, sweating, nausea are all symptoms. Don’t wait like I did, when in doubt get it checked out!

Looking back I may have been experiencing symptoms for weeks leading up to my SCAD. I had shoulder pain back at Christmas time that was unexplained and high blood pressure at my work wellness visit in November. The Thursday before my SCAD, I had strange chest pains that only lasted for a few minutes and just made me tired.

I am two years out now and this is what I posted on my Facebook page to share with my family and friends what had happened. I really want to find ways to raise awareness around women and heart disease, but especially SCAD heart attacks.