Catherine's story

My SCAD occurred on the longest day of the year, June 21st 1999. I was 9 months pregnant at the time. The pregnancy was my fourth; I had had three previous miscarriages with no known cause... I did some research of my own and my GP at the time agreed to me taking a 75 mg Aspirin daily for the first 36 weeks of the pregnancy.  Little did I know I would need to take Aspirin for the rest of my life!

On June 21st, I was due to visit hospital to receive an induction date, I was 10 days overdue. One of the feelings I had that never went away (call it a sixth sense) was that I needed to have a Caesarean. This was dismissed as first time pregnancy anxiety. That morning I woke feeling thirsty, as I got up I felt chest pain and I began shaking my left arm as it felt numb.  I told my husband we needed to go to the hospital (by this stage I had the well documented feelings of ‘impending doom’).

At the hospital, I was treated like any other pregnant woman and asked to wait in reception. By this time the vice like chest pains were strong and as I paced the floor I clearly remember looking into my husband’s eyes and saying ‘I feel like I am having a heart attack’. After having my obs checked and an ECG, I was becoming more unstable and in and out of consciousness. At one stage, my husband tells me I went grey and he thought I was dead. Doctors surrounded me, giving me drugs and a crash trolley was pulled to the side of the bed. The decision was taken to transfer me to Southampton General Hospital, 50 miles away. I was moved under a blue light with two doctors and my husband in the ambulance. On the high dependency coronary care unit there were mostly elderly people, except for a lady opposite who had had a baby 3 months prior and was now having heart problems. Sadly, she died a few days later. I wonder if that was a SCAD.

It was decided that I should have a General Anaesthetic and a Caesarean that same day. Our son was born fit and healthy in a Cardiac Theatre with a maternity team from the Princess Anne Hospital in attendance.

An angiogram five days later confirmed I had had a SCAD.

I went home after 10 days; my husband took as much time off work as possible. On the day, my mother arrived to look after us. July 19th, we received the shocking news that a driver who fell asleep at the wheel had killed my father in a car accident. I was given the all clear to fly to Ireland where he had been repatriated for the funeral.

The following 3 years were an emotional rollercoaster; Post Traumatic Stress, in hindsight, was what I was experiencing.

I returned to work after 1 year and had many years of good health since. I did not see a Cardiologist for many years; however now have a few issues. I have a fantastic Cardiologist, take my daily medication and live a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, it is worth noting that in 1999, it took me 2 years to even hear of another SCAD patient and she lived in America. I would therefore encourage everyone to use a valuable new resource we have on this site and to take part in the research.

This story is dedicated to my mother, Philomena Broderick. She was a fantastic mum and made me the strong person I am today. She passed away on April 23rd 2013 after a short illness. 

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