Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

My SCAD Scare

May 9, 2015

Hello, I am a 50 year old African American female, recently separated with 2 grown children. I suffered a heart attack from a tear in my circumflex artery 7am October 2nd 2014. I’ll never forget this date. My life hasn’t been the same since.

My story is similar to many others I’ve read here on the site and other internet sites where I am basically a healthy female, do not smoke, was a moderate drinker, eat healthy, active, work, so on and so on. I was taking metropolol HCTZ for prehypertension. 100mg once a day and had missed a dose the day before. I was actually painting the molding in my dining room preparing a house for rental when I stopped to write an email for work. I had been up since 3:30am and drinking caffeinated green tea and lemon. While writing the email I suddenly felt a burning tightening sensation in my chest that got worse and radiated up my neck to my jawline and ears. Not able to talk I texted my son to look up chest pain to neck pain on Google. He did. Came to my room told me to lay down on my side and stretch my arms above my neck. I might be having a stroke. My son called 911 on his phone. All circuits busy. My eyes rolled back in my head thinking this can’t be happening. Trying to remain calm so he can. Looked at him his eyes beginning to well up with tears. I crack a smile and nod my head for him to try again. He stayed calm and dialed again. When the paramedics arrived my BP was 180/130. They gave me 3 nitro tabs before they wheeled me off to the nearest ER.

After multiple EKGs and ultrasound came back clear, subsequent blood test taken in the ER finally confirmed a heart attack by elevated troponin levels. I was admitted to CCU. The Cath lab in the hospital was closed for repair and they tried to get it open to do the angiogram on me. On the 5th day of waiting and being treated with enoxaparin shots and other drugs I was transferred to a hospital in Los Angeles where the angiogram was performed right away. They found the tear in my circumflex artery and decided to let the tear heal naturally since it had begun to do so anyway. I was sent home with prescriptions for clopidogrel bisulfate, angina, metropolol tartrate, losartan, amlodipine besylate, pantoprozale, 81mg bayer aspirin and nitroglycerin tabs.

After a month of downtime, I began to resume some of my normal activities and found that when I work with my upper body, washing dishes, cleaning bathroom, washing puppy, sweeping, driving over 10 miles, etc. I get a burning crushing sensation under left or right breast or mid chest that would get worse and radiate up to my neck area.  I have to stop the activity and lay down and/or take a nitro tabor 2 or 3.  My symptoms are actually getting worse were I tire quickly, lose my breath and can barely talk.  I’ve taken a treadmill stress test and had a CT scan which for the most part is clear per 3 cardiologist.  I am now diagnosed with unstable angina or possibly artery spasms.  I take a nitro tab before any activity now and usually end up taking another before the task has ended.  I still tire quickly and need to lay down afterwards.  Docs have no clue why.  The initial ER cardiologist told me my symptoms are not coronary and left me in the wind.

At this point I am trying to get my Insurance medical group to approve a stay at a hospital here in Los Angeles.  Unfortunately the hospital that diagnosed the SCAD, another excellent hospital, does not accept my insurance at all and since this is no longer a ER situation they can no longer treat me.  The hospital that I am trying to get approved to stay at is in my network but as a secondary hospital to the one I went to initially where the equipment doesn’t work so well and conditions are sub par.  So my only other option is to change my medical group to one that has the hospital that I went to get approved as the primary hospital with doctors and specialist affiliated with them.  This will not be effective until the 1st of next month, IF approved.  This means I lose my primary doctor as well.  At this point all I want to do is get better and if making these changes will make that happen, so be it.  I know the group of specialist at the hospital I want to get approved will be able to find out exactly what is going on with me.  I just need to monitor my BP closely, take my nitro before activities and hang in there for 3 more weeks.