SCAD stories

Every SCAD patient has a different experience and their events happen in varying circumstances – from post-partum and menopausal women to highly athletic men. Telling our stories is a powerful way to raise awareness of SCAD as a condition that affects a wide range of people, most of whom have none of the normal cardiac risk factors.

Thanks to those who have allowed us to publish their stories. Click on the links below to read the stories.

Nicola’s story

Two days after celebrating her son’s graduation in London, 400 miles away from home, Nicola felt unwell. Her daughter called NHS Direct and a first responder told her it was probably a panic attack. However an ECG told a different story. After a long recovery she has rediscovered herself through music and is now looking forward, not back.

Click here to read more.

Tell us your SCAD story!

If you’d like to tell us your SCAD story, please click here to download our Story Template and Media Release Form.

Send your story, photos and the signed release form to contactus@beatscad.org.uk.

Alison’s story

Alison had a heart attack in 2013, out of the blue. She was a fit healthy mum, 46 years old with two energetic children. Family holidays revolved round cycling, mountains and on the water in all types of boats.

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Andrea’s story

Rushing to drop her children off at school, Andrea had chest pains, her throat was dry, it was hurting to breathe and she started to feel dizzy and shaky. When she sought medical help she was told she was stressed, and anxious and was was sent away. She was still in pain the next day and, knowing something wasn’t right, she eventually had a blood test, which showed she had had a heart attack.

Click here to read more.

Annabel’s story

A series of traumatic events culminated in Annabel having a SCAD in August 2018. She couldn’t believe it as she was so fit and healthy. Devastated she was no longer able to ride her beloved horse, Ralph, she set about rebuilding her life.

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Ben’s story

Ben had chest pains which, although not debilitating, were uncomfortable. “My arms began to feel weak and I felt dizzy.” He was in hospital for nine days and returned home in shock and “unable to comprehend I had suffered two heart attacks”.

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Clare’s story

Clare was 50 when she had her SCAD. When she was taken to hospital, she “was given no information about heart attack or how to recover, and was given the impression that she was asking medics too many questions.”

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Carole’s story

Carole died following a SCAD and cardiac arrest at the age of 56, leaving behind a devastated husband and three children.

“Carole was an incredible mum,” said her son Matt. “She always put others before herself and her children were her world.”

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Charlie Rae’s story

Charlie Rae had her SCAD in March 2017. She also suffers from lupus, an auto-immune condition. She had a very hard time trying to get a diagnosis and her breakthrough came when she contacted Dr Adlam, who is leading the UK research project.

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Charlotte’s story

Charlotte’s first SCAD heart attack happened at her son’s nursery and she had to have a heart bypass. Five years later she had a second SCAD.

“The cardiac specialist nurses told me they didn’t think it would turn out to be anything to do with my heart. I just didn’t fit the profile of the typical heart patient.”

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Cheryl’s story

Cheryl had a SCAD exactly a year ago as she was having dinner with her husband and friends.She said: “Feeling fragile and vulnerable, I had lost every confidence in my body and I grieved for the person I used to be. I was lucky to be alive but I was scared to live.”

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Colette’s story

Colette had a SCAD in April 2018 aged 35. A slim, healthy mum of two, she felt unwell and the pain came and went over the course of a few days.

Eventually she went to hospital where the doctors gave her indigestion medication… until her blood test results came back, when they told her she was having a heart attack.

Click here to read her story.

Debbie’s story

Debbie was having the one of the best years of her life, had rediscovered her passion for ice-skating and was looking forward to the future, when she had her SCAD completely out of the blue.

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Denise’s story

Denise was running on the treadmill when she had chest pains. She went to A&E but because she wasn’t having acute pain, she spent 48 hours on a trolley waiting to be transferred for an angiogram. Eventually SCAD was diagnosed, but with the help of SCAD experts she has returned to normal life, but doesn’t tempt fate by doing intensive exercise any more.

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James’ story

James was a high-performing runner, so his SCAD came as a complete shock. He was determined the heart attack wouldn’t stop him and he is now back doing what he loves – running.

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James H’s story

James’ was 44 when he had crushing chest pains “as if someone were grinding their knuckles as hard as they could into the centre of my chest”. He had never smoked, drank moderately, maintained a healthy weight and was fairly active.

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Jennifer’s story

Jennifer’s SCAD happened at work and she tried to carry on working, but eventually later that evening went to hospital.

“I was told this was a very rare condition and that in fact my arteries were in perfect condition.”

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Jennifer’s story

Jennifer had a SCAD and TIA at the age of 45. She went to A&E twice and was misdiagnosed with a chest infection, then told by her GP she had carpel tunnel syndrome. Another trip to A&E finally gave her a diagnosis.

After her first A&E visit, she was discharged and got a taxi home. She said “When I got into the taxi the driver looked at me and said ‘Should you be going home?’ as I looked unwell. Just before we arrived home I told the taxi driver that I thought I was going to die that night!”

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Jenny’s story

Jenny was extremely fit, doing a 50-mile bike ride at weekends and entering triathalons, but when she had cardiac symptoms her doctors refused to consider SCAD.

“The relief that I felt when I finally got my diagnosis was phenomenal. And to think that I had been sent to psychiatry because I wouldn’t accept their previous diagnosis.”

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Kim’s story

School nurse Kim, a fit and healthy mum of three, had a SCAD in 2017 and was subsequently diagnosed with Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD).

“I looked completely out of place on CCU with other heart attack patients. I felt like a fraud. My husband was in shock at the diagnosis and like me thought ‘How? Why? No! That’s not right!’” she says.

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Louise’s story

Louise had a SCAD at the age of 50. She told us it was a real life-changer not just for her but her family too.

“You no longer feel infallible and worry continually about travelling and stress and trying to take it easy and everyday life in general.”

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Lucy’s story

Lucy was 28 when she had her SCADs while she was out walking her dogs.

“Within roughly three hours of phoning for the ambulance I was in emergency surgery for a double coronary artery bypass operation where they also found a third tear.”

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Margaret’s story

The day after falling during a walk in the Lake District and dislocating her elbow, Margaret had a SCAD.

“The level of care at Blackpool was excellent and given with such kindness. They explained that so little was understood about SCAD. Dr Wood (SCAD researcher) emailed me while I was still at Blackpool and that started my journey of learning how to live with a rare disease.”

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Michelle’s story

Michelle was 43, fit, slim with no risk factors for heart disease. Her SCAD resulted in her having open heart surgery. With three young children to look after, family and friends rallied round to help and she recovered well.

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Rachel’s story

Rachel collapsed at home and had a cardiac arrest three weeks after her baby was born. Her heart did not beat on its own again for more than 80 minutes and, as a result, she suffered brain damage.

“No-one is sure if my short-term memory will come back but I am being taught to put strategies in place to help me and to eventually be able to look after my beautiful daughter.”

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Robyn’s story

Robyn was 27 when she had her SCAD two weeks after her third baby was born. Her family was told to prepare for the worst after she had a cardiac arrest.

Northampton emergency medicine consultant Dr Tom Odbert said: “Robyn was extremely lucky to be in hospital when she collapsed where she had immediate, aggressive and persistent resuscitation.”

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Róisín’s story

Róisín was 38, mother of three children aged 5, 3 and 5 months, when she had a SCAD in 2013. Paramedics told her it was a panic attack and didn’t seem concerned, until they did an ECG.

Her angio showed clear arteries and doctors concluded she’d just been unlucky and told her it wouldn’t happen again… but it did.

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Sam’s story

Sam was 41 when she had a SCAD heart attack. She then suffered depression, which is common among SCAD patients, and urges people to get help sooner rather than later.

She was tearful all the time: “I’d cry when I saw clients, cry privately… I was one big lake!”

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Tracey’s story

Tracey was 38 when she had a SCAD heart attack and cardiac arrest. She then contracted a virus which damaged her heart further. She has now had a heart transplant and has been given a new lease of life.

“The quicker SCAD is diagnosed in a patient the easier and less invasive the treatment could be.”

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Susan’s story

Susan developed heart failure during her pregnancy 30 years ago but it was only in 2016 she found out it had been caused by SCAD.

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Victoria’s story

Victoria had a SCAD eight weeks after her second child had been born.

“I felt like a tiny child, utterly lost and alone in this clinical corridor. I cried then, not for me, but for my children, my tiny baby who I’d left at home, my deliciously funny little three-year-old girl who was just beginning to make her mark on the world. Then I quickly felt absolutely furious, how dare this happen to me, why now?!”

Click here to read more.