Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Long Term Consequences

July 10, 2013

I’m two years out!

In July of 2011(one week post-partum) I had a SCAD attack in the middle of the night. It came on gradually–I felt uncomfortable, then nausea, labored breathing, heavy arms, and pain radiating from my back around to the front of my chest. The pain faded at the emergency room but the abnormal EKG prompted hospitalization. 12 hours later I had another attack, was given nitroglycerin which improved my symptoms, and was told it was heart trouble. After numerous tests the doctors diagnosed SCAD and recommended bypass surgery. While waiting several days for the surgery, I had another attack. I was feeling pretty anxious at this point in time! They moved the surgery up and it went well. However, an hour and a half after the surgery I had another dissection which blocked the bypass. The doctors think the majority of the LAD dissected at this point. I survived this dissection with the help of an impella device. After three days it was removed, I waited several more days, was put on medication, and eventually sent home 12 days after I was admitted.

I survived the SCAD and continue to live with the blocked coronary artery/permanently damaged heart. It was a long recovery–almost a year to return to “normal” life. But now I can do almost as much as I did before SCAD and surgery. I’m a stay at home mom for my seven children and wonderful husband. At this point my ejection fraction (45%), pain, and functionality are good enough that more medical intervention (stenting, etc.) is not advised. Life is good. I still feel as if I have been given a second chance in this life.

I would love to see more research done! I’m signed up with the Mayo clinic for a current study. It was obvious in my case that medical intervention was needed. With three dissections before the surgery, I didn’t feel safe just going home to rest. I know that has worked for others and they have fully recovered, but it didn’t look like an option for me. A failed bypass surgery wasn’t a great option either. I never want anyone else to have to go through that if they don’t have to! Without enough information, doctors pretty much have to make it up as they go. Hopefully our collective experiences will help bring about better understanding of and care for SCAD patients soon.