Andrea's story

In January 2016 I had two heart attacks due to SCAD, just a few weeks from my 44th birthday, I am still shocked that it has happened to me.

I have always been very healthy and active with no risk factors and no family history of heart diseases.

Prior to heart attacks I was feeling very tired but I put it down to work, preparation for Christmas and holidays added to a deep sadness from losing my best friend of over 30 years in November.

The first heart attack happened during the school run, we were a bit late and I ran for about two minutes when I started to feel a very heavy pain in my chest and back; it felt like I was being squeezed from both sides, my throat went really dry and I had sharp pain when trying to breathe, I was shaking all over and sweating under my armpits, there was a warm sensation from my armpits down to my hands.

I went to a walk-in centre where all the protocol checks came out as normal and I was discharged for stress, panic attack and being unfit.

I struggled with pain and discomfort the whole day and night.

The next morning, again during the school run I had another episode of all the above added to a cramping feeling in my lower jaw, this time it was worse and I had so little energy I felt like I was going to pass out.

I contacted the medical centre and they couldn't see me until the end of the day so I had another full day of pain and discomfort, I didn't go to the emergency department because of my diagnosis the previous day, but I was getting very scared.

Finally at my appointment, all checks came out as normal again but the doctor thought it was a good idea to go to the A&E for a blood check.

My troponin level was sky high at 40,666 and an angiogram showed SCAD.

Since then I have had a few more trips to the emergency hospital due to chest pains, shortness of breath, pressure on my neck, dizziness and heavy limbs.

Nothing new has been found, most of the doctors and nurses have never heard about SCAD and I noticed that their favourite words for when they don't know what else to say are ‘panic attack’ and ‘anxiety’.

Then through a Facebook group I heard about the SCAD research in Leicester and registered.

Thankfully I was accepted and spent a whole day having very comprehensive checks, from blood tests to a complete MRI scan.

I experienced a very humanised treatment where they really take the time to listen and to explain things; it is amazing what information can do to a patient. I went there full of doubts and thinking very low about my future and just by listening to the very knowledgeable Dr Abi, I left the hospital with a very positive outlook and proud for taking part in such an important research.

Hopefully in a very near future, SCAD will be preventable.

Thank you so much to Dr Abi, Dr Adlam and all the research team, you are making a huge difference!

Content topics: