Louise's story

At the age of 37 I had 2 episodes of a heart-burn pain which travelled down my left arm and the second of these was while I prepared to go to an aerobics class. I felt a fluttering under my rib cage, and fear led me to phone 999.

I was taken by ambulance to hospital where a blood test revealed a problem, possibly a blood clot on my lung and I was told I would have to stay in. As soon as I was told this, the pain returned but this time far worse, with pain in both my arms, my chest, neck and head. Doctors looked on bemused as I was young and healthy and they told me it was stress I was feeling!

I was moved to Medical Assessment where I was sick, and looking back I now see how many classic heart attack symptoms I had! It was almost 24 hours before I was told it was a heart attack and moved swiftly to Coronary Care. Two days later I had an angiogram which showed a long tear in my Circumflex artery and I was later told it was Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).

It was only when I was back at home that the shock hit me. You see, it wasn't just physical weakness I felt, I was an emotional wreck and fearful when I lay down to sleep, monitoring my heart beat, as if it could stop at any moment. I needed answers and I still do and this is why I am so keen to be involved in research.

Just 2 months after this, while regaining my confidence at Cardiac Rehabilitation classes, I developed a pain in my abdomen. After suffering excruciating pain for days I was found to have an enlarged ovary which needed to be removed. I had to wait until doctors considered my heart to be strong enough to cope with major surgery so my operation was 4 months after SCAD. Did the ovary problem cause my SCAD? I would love to know.

I tell my story wherever I can, which helps me to cope, but I still feel the effects of SCAD. Not only am I now a more anxious person, but SCAD has removed my hope of having a baby. Every time I hear of a new case I cry. I don't want anyone else to suffer the fear and sadness that SCAD brings.

SCAD research brings so much hope that we may soon know why it happens. We want quicker SCAD diagnosis, and medical treatment which is appropriate to this condition.

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