Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD): A Condition That Causes Heart Attacks Mostly In Healthy Women by Heather Holter

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD): A Condition That Causes Heart Attacks Mostly In Healthy Women

On September 13, 2019, I had a heart attack while at home alone. I am 43 years old. I have no high blood pressure or cholesterol issues. I am not overweight. I am healthy and active. But I had a heart attack.  

I called 911 and was taken to the hospital where an electrocardiogram (EKG) was performed and troponin levels were checked. I was quickly being prepared to be airlifted to Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. When I arrived I was given an angiogram and immediately SCAD was diagnosed. I spent five days in the hospital and my SCAD is being medically managed. 

SCAD stands for spontaneous coronary artery dissection, and is a tear that takes place randomly in the coronary artery. SCAD most often strikes young healthy active moms. There seems to be a connection to pregnancy hormones and it is thought to be hereditary. My twin sister, Leslie Welky, had SCAD last February.

There is no warning. It happens suddenly. The only thing we can do is know the signs of SCAD, get help if we have them and mention SCAD as a possible cause for the heart attack when you are at the hospital. 

Signs and symptoms of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) are the same as symptoms of other types of heart attacks and may include:

  • chest pain
  • rapid heartbeat or fluttery feeling in your chest
  • pain in your arms, shoulders or jaw
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • unusual, extreme tiredness
  • nausea
  • dizziness

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Leslie W
Yep must be hereditary, because I (Heather’s twin) had it in February-4 tears in 3 arteries in 9 days, 10 day hospital stay and 4 in ICU.
Elisa Schmitz
This is so frightening, Heather Holter . I am so glad you made it through this ordeal and I hope you have a complete recovery. I had not heard of SCAD, so I really appreciate you sharing your experience. Wishing you and Leslie W a full return to health!
Jill Meixner Ahlquist
Great info. I had never heard of this before. I’m so grateful that you & Leslie are ok & are able to manage this with your doctor’s help. ❤️
Julie Rose
How frightening. I hope you have healed and are doing better. 💔
Heather Holter
I recovered fully in 6 months, but unfortunately developed tachycardia after Covid a year later so I have an all new issue.

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