Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

What SCAD means to me!!

February 2, 2017

I am 43 years old SCAD survivor and I am married with 5 wonderful children. On July 20,2016 while out for my morning jog I felt a sudden tight squeeze in the center of my chest. It felt like someone was squeezing my windpipe while standing on my chest. Shortly after I felt intense strain up both sides of my jaw, which caused panic. A heart attack was the furthest thing from my mind. I have zero risk factors, no high blood pressure, great cholesterol profile, exercise daily, non-smoker, get plenty of sleep, eat well, etc. Lucky for me, my husband felt it was necessary for us visit the emergency room. I was treated with nitroglycerin, had several EKG’s, blood tests, x-rays and much more. Within three hours it was confirmed that I had some sort of cardiac event and that I needed to be transported to a hospital in Lebanon, NH by ambulance to have a heart catheterization for further diagnostics. A HEART ATTACK?

After recovery from the procedure, I was told that I had survived a heart attack referred to as SCAD. I was also told that I had a 50% blockage and a 20% blockage in two separate arteries. I spent one night in the hospital for monitoring. I was discharged on 80mg of Lipitor, 25 Metoprolol, plavix, and aspirin. The first week home was difficult. I did not tolerate such a high dose of Lipitor, maybe because my total cholesterol is 160, so I called hospital and they immediately cut the dose in half. Within a couple of days, I was calling again because the beta blocker was making me anxious and confused, so they suggested I cut that in half. It was so scary having a heart attack that the medical professionals had not seen that much of!!

The next couple of months consisted of tests; no FMD (but I did learn that I’m missing a vertebral artery in the back of my neck), networking with other survivors, completing rehabilitation with people a lot older than I. I was the first SCAD patient that they had in rehab, which was not reassuring at first, but I learned to trust the monitors and have understanding of their lack of experience with my situation!

In conclusion, meeting Dr. Malissa Wood from MGH changed my outlook on SCAD and my life!
It eased my mind knowing that I she had seen a couple hundred survivors, and that she was involved in research, etc. She reviewed my tests, etc. and decided that I needed a CT Angiogram
which confirmed that my arteries are clear of plaque!! Apparently, our artery walls become inflamed during the SCAD process and mimicked blockages during my catheretization. Phew, take that off the list of problems, but add myocardial bridge because they found that during my angiogram. I’m raising awareness in my community through “Sneakers for SCAD”. I’m putting collection bins locally (schools, Police Dept., grocery stores, etc.) and a portion of what we make will go to SCAD Research, plus, I’m gaining media attention regarding my campaign which will also educate people about what SCAD is!! Surviving SCAD means everything to me, and finding out why it happens and helping others is always on my mind and in my heart!!