SCAD, SCAD Alliance and My Story

Until the end of January, 20% of all sales will be donated to SCAD Alliance, Inc. to aid research into Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).

This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, literally.

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection is an emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in a wall of a heart artery. SCAD can slow or block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack, heart rhythm problems or sudden death. It is an under-diagnosed cause of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest.

It most commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s, though it can occur at any age and can occur in men. It is often the cause of heart attack during pregnancy and post-partum. People who have SCAD often don't have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

SCAD can cause sudden death if it isn't treated promptly. Get emergency medical help if you have heart attack symptoms — even if you think you aren't at risk of a heart attack.

The cause of SCAD is currently unknown although some known factors include emotional stress, physical stress, possibly inflammatory disorders and connective tissue diseases. Many people who’ve had a SCAD have an underlying arterial condition, such as Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD) or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.  

Unfortunately, many doctors are unsure how to treat SCAD, and misdiagnosis or symptom dismissal occurs too often.

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The mission of SCAD Alliance, Inc. is to be the leader in advancing the science of Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) through improved knowledge and cooperation among health care professionals, patients and their families. We pursue this mission by educating key audiences and fostering unique, interdisciplinary research collaborations.

They fund the iSCAD registry, which is an independent, multi-center data repository to advance the pace and breadth of SCAD research around the world, toward the common goals of improving patient diagnosis and outcomes, and accelerating scientific discovery.

Institutions that are interested in spontaneous coronary artery dissection and that care for SCAD patients on a regular basis can become participating centers. The iSCAD Registry launched in 2019. By 2023, the iSCAD network has grown to 24 sites. Additional institutions in new geographic areas will be added in the future.

To learn more about SCAD itself, SCAD Alliance, Inc. and the iSCAD Registry, visit :

www.scadalliance.org

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My Story - - -

In late December of 2020 my family and I were visiting more family near Boston only for a few hours that day as this was in the middle of COVID. When it was time to start driving home, I decided I didn’t feel well enough to drive and in the next few minutes I went from feeling ‘unwell’ to having pain in my chest, left shoulder and jaw.  Luckily my husband is an emergency responder and recognized the possibility that it was a heart attack so he took me to the nearest ED even though I had no known reason to be having a heart attack.  

Once at the there, I was stabilized and sent to Brigham and Women’s, who did an angiogram and recognized that I had had a dissection of a coronary artery (SCAD).  

Apparently I had to be resuscitated twice during all of this.

I am thankful that I had been taken to a hospital with a Cath Lab and one that had staff who were familiar with SCAD, and, of course, to my husband who acted quickly.

It didn’t have to get to that point, but I did not recognize some other more subtle symptoms in the days prior to that event.  I had had some left arm/shoulder/neck pain, but attributed that to a pulled/sore muscle from cross country skiing in the days before.  I also had a strange wavelike sensation accompanied by a little pressure go across my chest that lasted for about 20 minutes 2 days before, but since it went away I thought little of it.  I had absolutely no reason to believe I was going to have a heart attack.  And, sadly, if I had gone to an ED with these vague symptoms, I most likely would have been dismissed.


Now, almost 3 years later, despite being pretty good about following restrictions given and taking medications to lower the risk of recurrence, I have had another SCAD.  This time I was in Burlington, VT in a grocery store checking out when I felt very, very, hot and suddenly had chest pain and pressure.  I said to myself that I was having a heart attack, had the person with me finish bagging and put the groceries in the car, then drove the 4 minute drive to the ED, where they took me in immediately. Several hours later I was in the Cath Lab being diagnosed with SCAD.

For the second time, I was close to a hospital with a cath lab.  This time I was able to tell people about my previous SCAD so they knew more what to look for and they were willing to listen to me.  And, I had gone quickly to the ED instead of waiting to see if the pain would resolve on its own.  So, I believe this outcome was better than it could have been elsewhere.

Now it is time, once again, to relax and concentrate on recovery.  

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