Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Rude Awakening

February 1, 2023

I was awoken one Saturday morning to an odd feeling in my chest, neck and arm. Thinking I had slept in an odd position, I tried to stretch this odd feeling out. It didn’t change. I woke my boyfriend and told him something was wrong. We were dressed and in the car within minutes, heading to our closest ER, 20 minutes away. I’m pretty sure it didn’t take us that long to get there! (I know now, I we should have called 911)
Immediately upon entering the ER, I was taken to a room and given 4 baby aspirin, blood was taken, an IV started and numerous other medications administered. I was asked “At what pain level are you at?”, “4” I said, considering I had given birth to both my children naturally. I wasn’t in that much pain, there was just something wrong. A nurse came in and told me the helicopter was on its way and I would be taken to Denver to treat my heart attack.

WHAT????? I’m having a heart attack? I was in shock. (Although, I did know I had all the symptoms)

We live in a very rural area where there aren’t very high level medical services, so within 30 minutes of arriving, I was transported by Fight for Life to the nearest Emergency Cardiac Unit. It was a beautiful flight with the sun just coming over the Rocky Mountains. I wanted to cry but was afraid of missing what could be my last sunrise. The chest pressure also increased as I held back the tears.
Upon arrival, at the hospital I was sent immediately to the Cath Lab. There were lots of people and a Doctor who told me about the procedure they were going to start. Inserting a catheter into my wrist to inject dye into my heart and see into my arteries. Before I knew it had started, the procedure was over. My Doctor told me it was a SCAD heart attack, my artery had torn and would heal on it’s own. I was given lots of blood thinners to dissolve the clot in my heart.

In less than 3 hours upon wakening, I had been flown across the mountains to a Cath Lab, diagnosed with SCAD and was transported to my hospital room where my family and friends were waiting. It was all a blur, very surreal and shocking. I’m only 57 and in fairly good shape.

I was released the next day.

2 days later, I was back in the ER not feeling quite right, rushes of adrenaline and odd chest pressure. I was sent back to the Denver hospital for a couple days of observation. I do feel better now, although I do still have a presence of something odd in my chest, it comes and goes.

I was told to get back to my regular life, avoid heavy lifting and competitive sports. I lift a lot of heavy boxes at work, so I have recently started working out, trying to stay strong, healthy and focused on healing my body and mind.