At the time of my SCAD I was 39 years old (2 years ago), I’m married, I’ve always eaten well and have always been into my fitness and was a fitness instructor in the Army. I grew up in surf clubs and competed at state and nationals until I joined the Army. Other sporting passion of rugby and touch football then replaced the surf club passions.
The day I had my SCAD I was swim teaching kids at our local pool but indications something was not right occurred the day before on a three hour bike ride. This wasn’t an abnormal activity for my wife and myself and the bike ride was done at a leisurely pace with a coffee stop at the half way mark. On the return journey I didn’t feel right, there was a very strong head wind which made the return trip more strenuous and I said to my wife I think my blood sugar might be low. So we stopped and got chocolate bar and I felt a little better and continued home.
The next day at work I was treading water whilst the kids swam around me I began to fell unwell, agitated, I had pressure on my chest and then pain started radiating down my left arm. I finished the lesson and went over to my supervisor and said I’m not feeling well and I think I may be having a heart attack but that can’t be I’m only 39. She said you aren’t driving yourself I’m calling an ambulance.
When in the emergency room I thought they were going to say everything is okay you can go home but that was not the case. They found troponins in my blood and stated that I was staying for more blood tests. After the third blood test they decided the levels were significate enough to transfer to the cardiac ward. I had another minor cardiac episode in the ambulance during the transfer. That night in the cardiac ward was the worst night sleep I’ve ever had. I was uncomfortable with chest pains coming and going and my left hand and fingers were puffy and swollen.
Whilst in hospital I had an angiogram which found no cardiovascular disease or blockages but the contrast MRI confirmed a SCAD on my Posterior Descending Artery. It took me so long after this diagnosis to get back into my fitness and doing the stuff I love like surfing and running with my dogs. I wasn’t sure what I could and couldn’t do.
I have had no recurring SCADs for over two years I have been admitted twice for other heart related issues (heart palpations and extremely low heart rate). The medications they had me on influenced both of these conditions and now I’m off all medications. I have a great cardiologist at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and before my last visit he recommended a cardiac stress test which gave me the confidence in my heart.
Looking back I think the biggest thing people can learn from my experience is that anyone can have a heart attack at any age and to be able to recognise the signs.