Ben's story

Published Wed, 2 May 2018 by

My SCAD happened in June 2017.

The day started as normal, I took my young children to school and caught the train to work.

I was in an early morning meeting and suddenly started feeling chest pains which, although not debilitating, were certainly uncomfortable. My arms began to feel weak and I started to feel dizzy. I wasn’t feeling any better by lunchtime so I decided to walk to the nearest hospital for a check-up. Once there I had an ECG, blood test and was told the troponin levels in my blood were high as I’d suffered a minor heart attack. I was in shock and the doctor asked me to remain in hospital overnight so I could have an angiogram the following day.

My chest pain had subsided by the time I had the angiogram which showed I had suffered a SCAD in my distal (left) obtuse marginal artery. The angiogram was very uncomfortable and when I returned the ward, I suffered another heart attack which was excruciatingly painful. I had an MRI scan to investigate the pain which showed further damage to my heart so it became clear something may have happened in the angiogram. I was sent for a second angiogram (during which my heart stopped and I was resuscitated!), which showed I’d suffered a further dissection in my right coronary artery – unfortunately it appeared the first angiogram caused this.

I was kept in hospital for nine days and returned home in shock and unable to comprehend that I had suffered two heart attacks. My wife and three young children were finding it difficult to understand why this had happened to their seemingly healthy father and husband.

I attended cardiac rehabilitation sessions at my local hospital and went back to work part time with the help of the fantastic occupational health team. My aim is to return to full-time work but manage my stress more effectively. Looking back on my pre-SCAD life I was extremely stressed, which resulted in regular migraines – my busy job was all-consuming and I was constantly thinking about work, checking emails and neglecting family life. This needs to and will change going forward!

Three months on from my SCAD, I am still feeling very tired and suffering aches and pains in my chest which is being caused by a narrowing in my right coronary artery following the second dissection. I used to run 5km regularly, perhaps two or three times a week, but have been advised not to exercise on my own until the chest pains have subsided.