Wednesday 2nd May 2007 I was walking our dog with my husband when I felt pain and pins & needle like sensations down my left arm. I said to my husband, I'm sure I have just had a heart attack and he said I'm sure you would know!
The next day I went to work feeling very tired and slightly breathless but I didn't link this to the previous day. I was laughing when I experienced tremendous pain which radiated down my neck and back; I could not lift my arms; I knew something was wrong but didn't know what, I felt like I needed to burp so drank a glass of milk and thought that helped but as I went upstairs I felt a strong pulling feeling under both arms. This went on for 2 hours intermittently and I knew I needed to get checked out.
I walked into the hospital holding under my armpits, 2 nurses took me into the resuscitation room. I was told 4 hours later that I’d had a heart attack. I didn't believe them!
A few days later I had an angiogram and was told it was a blood clot that had caused it. Another cardiologist came to see me and said he wanted to do a 2nd angiogram, as I didn't have any pre-existing medical conditions. That was when my SCAD was discovered. Luckily for me my cardiologist had seen this 10 years previously. He said he wasn't quite sure what to do but when he had seen this once before, his senior said the best approach was to watch and wait! We did… for 5 weeks, during which time I had my 3rd angiogram and was told it had gotten worse. I was told I would have a by-pass operation on the 12th June 2007 but they would do 1 more angiogram to see if it was healing, again the dissection had just got longer. I was seen again by the cardiologist who had done my 1st angio and he asked what I was still doing there as he would have sent me home with medication as he had not spotted the dissection!
The day of my planned bypass op, I was in the Cath Lab and the cardiologist said he was asking another cardiologist to come and look at my angiogram. When he arrived he looked at the screen and asked me what did I want to do? Did I want to try stenting or go for the planned bypass! I had a choice on something I knew nothing about!
My cardiologist and I agreed to try the stents and he reassured me that if there was a problem during stenting I would be rushed to theatre for the planned bypass. I had 2 stents and it worked. I was allowed home the next day.
After 5 weeks in hospital I was let home, I was terrified. I spent 1 night in my own home when I started having stitch like feelings in my chest and I'd had a reaction to the contrast dye. I was admitted again and stayed another week. I came home from hospital frightened but told myself this was not going to take over my life! I needed to be strong for the rest of my family - staying positive helped them as well as myself but 6 years on I am still looking for answers.
I had given up ever finding any answers to why SCAD happens but now, like all the SCAD survivors, we have hope due to the research at Glenfield. This research will also help cardiologists in the diagnosis of SCAD in future patients. As I know from experience some cardiologists recognise it and some don’t.
SCAD is something that we never really get over but would find it easier to accept if we had a better understanding of why it happens.
If anyone is reading my story and think it relates to them or someone they know please, please register and help us SCAD survivors find some answers. We need your help!