Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Scad Survivor – The Day that Changed My Life

February 5, 2023

November 27, 2022, the day that changed my life. I’m a healthy 44 y/o women with no health problems prior to SCAD. I’ve been a nurse for 22 years, 13 of those years I worked in the Emergency Room. I’ve had a number of patients suffering from heart attacks and even bypass surgery (CABG), but in 22 years I’ve never heard of a SCAD Heart Attack. I don’t remember any symptoms that week. My last memory was our trip to Boston, which took place earlier in the week. After returning from Boston, I worked three straight 12 hour shifts and the next morning I ran 3 miles on the treadmill. I don’t remember any of this but my husband said I complained of palpitations while exercising, which resolved as I slowed down my pace.

A few hours later we were leaving a bakery and I complained of left sided chest pain which radiated down my left arm. I immediately told my husband to take me to the emergency room. My husband stated “they did an EKG and took you to a room. The doctor came into the room and asked a lot of questions then said she was going to review your EKG.” He said my chest pain was better and I was in mid-sentence when I said “Oh No! My hands went into the air and my heart stopped. I was in cardiac arrest. He yelled out for help and within seconds my room was filled with hospital staff. My husband didn’t know what was going on. They worked on me for at least 45 minutes. Then they took me to the Cath Lab. My artery was 100% blocked from a blood clot due to a tear in the artery. They placed 2 stents in the OM artery. I wish this was the end of the story but there’s more.

Once the stents were placed I was transported to CVICU. I was sedated on a ventilator (life support). My husband said I looked extremely uncomfortable. Later that evening the doctors informed him that I was in cardiogenic shock (my heart wasn’t pumping effectively) which caused my kidneys and liver to fail. I was rushed back to the Cath Lab to have an Impella pump placed in my right groin. The Impella pump would assist my heart to pump blood to vital organs. This worked temporarily but it wasn’t enough. It was also impeding blood flow from my right leg which would be amputated if the pump was not removed. Because my kidneys weren’t functioning, I was placed on dialysis to filter my blood since the kidneys weren’t doing the job.

Next, I was taken to surgery to have a larger Impella pump placed in my right upper chest and the small Impella pump in the right groin was removed. The larger pump worked better and my family said I appeared rested and my color improved. Although, the Impella pump was working, it was killing my red blood cells and I was showing minimal signs of improvement. One Cardiologist told my family I was going to die. But the rest of the medical staff (nurses and doctors) were very positive. My brother said there was always a nurse in my room and the doctors checked on me frequently.

Four days later they removed the Impella pump and my heart started to function normally again. My kidneys and liver improved as well. On the 5th day they turned off the sedation and removed the ventilator. I had no idea what occurred. I remember seeing the burn marks on my chest from the defibrillator and I knew what that meant. I was happy to be alive. In total I was in CVICU for 8 days and telemetry for 1 day. Recovery has been extremely difficult. I’m not familiar with being sick. I usually care for sick people. I could barely walk due the pain from surgery. I experienced frequent palpitations and heart flutters.

But after a month I started to feel 80% back to normal. The palpitations and heart flutters have subsided too. Currently, I take Aspirin 81mg, Metoprolol XL 25mg, and Brillanta 90mg.