February 22, 2015
Back in April 2006, I took an early morning jog with my husband, got dressed for my job as a kindergarten teacher, and ate breakfast. As I stood up to take my dishes to the kitchen, I felt a crushing pain in the center of my chest and down my left arm. I tried convincing myself that it couldn’t be related to my heart because I have no family history of heart disease, follow a healthy vegan diet , exercise daily, have low blood pressure/cholesterol, and don’t smoke or drink.
Still in pain, I got in my car to drive to work. On the way, the pain became unbearable. I managed to drive myself to the hospital emergency room and soon afterward “coded.” The nurses had to use the paddles to bring me back. An emergency angioplasty was performed and two stents were inserted in my left anterior descending. The cardiologists were baffled by my massive heart attack with no signs of arteriosclerosis, and kept testing me- to no avail- for an autoimmune disorder.
Several weeks after this event, I took my photos from the angioplasty to Johns Hopkins Hospital. A team of cardiologists there diagnosed my condition as Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Although I was on 4 blood thinners and a multitude of other heart meds, I eventually had the doctors wean me off, and for the past 8 years I’ve only been on a 81mg aspirin. Even though my ejection fraction is in the heart failure range as a result of the heart attack, I lead an active, full life with no restrictions.
Last week I had an incredibly stressful week at school and began having chest pains. I drove myself to the hospital after work and was admitted with high levels of troponins. After another angioplasty, I was diagnosed with a far less serious dissection in another portion of my heart. I’m at home recovering now (with more meds) and I really feel the need to connect to others who have gone through this scary ordeal. I had no idea that a SCAD could happen again…and almost 9 years after the first one!