Living with SCAD

Coping & support: Your New Normal

Experiencing a SCAD heart attack can be an extremely unexpected and frightening event. Seeing that this condition often affects people who have very few or no risk factors for heart disease it can be very scary for the sufferer and their families. The good news is that the prognosis for those treated in a hospital is excellent and generally the tear in the coronary artery heals within a few months.

Every case is different – you will likely feel more fatigued or tired for some time after your SCAD. Some people take up to 3-6 months or more to find their new normal. Some SCAD survivors experience mild unexplained chest pain following their heart attack – it is important to give yourself time to recover and to seek urgent medical advice if you have any concerns.

Some tips can include:

Manage stress and anxiety sub heading, not a point

Don’t ignore your mental health: A lot of the time your SCAD diagnosis will come as a shock, and with that it will be normal to experience some level of stress and anxiety. It is understood that there could be a connection between stress and SCAD, so it’s important you find ways of managing the stress and anxiety in your life. A few ways to do this includes:

  • Talk to someone

Whether it be a psychologist, GP or family member it’s important to talk about what you’re feeling and voice any fears or concerns you have about your health that may be causing you stress or anxiety

  • Take care of yourself

Help your body recover by making sure you have enough sleep, eat a healthy balanced diet and find ways to cope with stress (e.g. trying meditation, listening to music)

  • Connect with others living with SCAD.  Join a community that understands what you’ve been through. There is an Australian Facebook group for SCAD survivors, connecting women & men from around the country who have been through similar experiences https://www.facebook.com/groups/AustralianSCADsurvivors/. There are also Facebook Support groups from family members of SCAD patients.

SCAD Research Inc Australia also holds 5k SCADaddles for research across Australia. These walks are a great opportunity to meet other survivors and their friends and family as well as raising much-needed funds for medical research into SCAD heart attacks.

It is perfectly normal to need time to accept what has happened to you and to come to terms with changes in your everyday life. In fact, anxiety or depression after a cardiac event is so common that it even has a name – post cardiac or situational depression – the good news is that it’s common, treatable and often temporary.

Each person will have a different way of dealing with, and understanding their diagnosis, but it’s important that you do take the time in processing your SCAD heart attack and build yourself back up to your ‘new normal’.

If you or someone you know would like further support or to find out more about anxiety and depression go to https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ or call Beyond Blue Australia on 1300 22 4636 for support & advice.

Join the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s SCAD research program:

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is leading Australian research into spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) to try and understand the cause of this disease. Currently, there isn’t much known about SCAD, which is why research is so important.

Executive Director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Professor Bob Graham, is leading this research program which now has hundreds of Australian SCAD survivors, including some families with more than one affected member participating. The Institute’s researchers are looking to identify genetic variations that contribute to the development of this disease, and they need your help!

If you have had a SCAD heart attack and would like to find out more about how you can get involved in this research program, please email scad@victorchang.edu.au.

You can also register to join many Australian SCAD survivors in the Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) studies at the Mayo Clinic by emailing mayoscad@mayo.edu