January 22, 2018
My older brother died in 2014 at the age of 51 of a heart attack. He displayed no known symptoms leading up to his death and died in a hotel while working out of town.He was muscular and at a healthy weight. Following his death I made two visits to a cardiologist for full exams and was given a clean bill of health on both occasions. I was in excellent health, not overweight, and exercised multiple times a week.
In the spring of 2017 at the age of 49, I began to feel chest pain after a 4 mile walk. The pain extended to my back shoulder area, left arm, and the left jaw and upper teeth area. I was also extremely tired and slept for a couple of hours. The pain went away to return during the evening then diminish again by the morning. Later that morning, while shopping with my husband, the pain returned and I realized I could barely keep up with him while walking, due to fatigue. We went to the ER and I was found to have no chemical indicators of a heart attack and had a normal EKG. The pain lessened with medication and I was kept for observation and a stress test. I experienced pain with a stress test and had a heart catheterization; where a blood clot and a tear to the left descending artery was discovered. It was treated with medication for several weeks; however, when the pain returned it was found that the tear had gotten larger and I needed a stint.
I was forced to retire from my job as police administrator due to the condition. Despite the need to change careers; I feel lucky that my condition was not misdiagnosed by ER. Had I been sent home following a good EKG and no chemical indicators of a heart attack; it is likely that I would have died as a result. Living with SCAD is my new normal. I exercise now at a cardiac rehab unit, take my medication on time, and continue to have a healthy eating routine. I am hopeful that I will live for many more years so I can someday enjoy grandchildren.