Postpartum spontaneous coronary artery dissection

by Jennie
(China Grove North Carolina)

I am a 36 year old female, good health, and May 31st 2009, gave birth to my fourth baby.

Pregnancy was uneventful and birth was normal and things were as good as it could be. I had been feeling short of breath and sick to my stomach the last month of pregnancy, but chalked it up to my huge baby belly!!

Went home and enjoyed 2 whole days with my new baby and family, except feeling very tired. I was so tired that my husband had to feed the baby during the night. I felt very guilty about that, but just could not muster up the strength.

Third evening home with new baby, around 7 p.m. felt a sudden burning, tearing, pressure in my chest. I broke out in a cold sweat, and could not take a deep breath.

We immediately went to the e.r. where my blood pressure was 190/150...I was told that I had had a heart attack.

They immediately did the tests and told me that I had had a spontaneous coronary artery dissection of the left main descending artery and they could not stent it since the tear was so high up on the heart, they would have to bypass it three ways.

I would have to have open heart surgery.

But, wait...I have a new baby and three other children at home. This was one of the only times in my life when I did not have any sense of control.

I had to do this or die.

I had never even had a strained muscle, broken bone, or anything in my life!! Just a few hours later, my family is there and they are wheeling me off to the scariest experience of my life.

I woke to the nurse telling me to cough and pulling something from out of my throat. Time had been replaced with confusion...but, I was alive and they told me later things had not looked good for me for awhile. Morphine pump was my friend for a few days.

It has been a little over a year since THE SURGERY and I have heart damage, but the doc says that my heart works on the low side of, hey, it's still within normal limits. He said that most cases like mine arrive at hospital in cardiac arrest, so I was lucky.

I feel very blessed that I was spared, so that I can be a mother to my children and a wife to my husband.

I was really depressed after the surgery and on top of that having postpartum blues!! I think having an infant to take care of afterward, made me have something to focus on besides myself. You don't know what a challenge it is to not be able to lift your two week old baby. But, we made it through, and things get easier every day.

Although, I do have to talk myself out of panic attacks, I have anxiety about any twinge of pain in my chest. As far as the scar...well, I have my ups and downs about that. Some days I just don't care if anyone sees it, and sometimes I want to hide it. The scars on my leg don't bother me at all.

I wear shorts, and even spent a week at the beach and wore a bathing suit. It is my life...I don't want it to be controlled by my heart, my scars, my anxiety, my lowered confidence in my body, my damn heart sonograms!!! But, sometimes it is.

Comments for Postpartum spontaneous coronary artery dissection

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by: Anonymous

I don't check this website often, sorry. Go on facebook and look up scad survivors. You will find a wealth of information there. Apparently if you have scad postpartum, they blame it on hormones and increased blood volume. If you are not postpartum, they have several other reasons why it might have happened. Good luck!

Post-Partum CAD or SCAD?
by: Cathy

Searched for information for many of years. I had an MI caused from Post-Partum Coronary Artery Dissection (PPCAD), on January 4th, 1994. Approximately 1 1/2 yrs. ago I found information about SCAD - Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. My question is: Are these two separate heart conditions? I was told and believed that PPCAD was caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, if I didn't get pregnant again, I would not have another PPCAD. Is there any truth to this? I was shocked to learn that SCAD is caused by different reasons besides pregnancy such as: menopause, extreme exercise,FMD and some men have SCAD's.

Jennie and SCAD
by: Jennie

I recieved notification that there were some comments to my story. I think I wrote this story about a year after having my SCAD. Well, it has been almost three years now and I seem to be doing well! If any of you ladies have a facebook account, you should look up SCAD support group. The group is growing and you can find many different opinions and some answers to your questions about SCAD. Hope you all are well!

5 years later...
by: Anonymous

it has been 5 years to the day that i had my procedure that saved my life. I had a Scad after having twins. I was lucky and didnt have to have a bypass, but my poor husband had to decided if they should attempt putting the stents in via the angeogram as they only gave me a 50/50 shot. I went through similar things with being scared by any strange feeling i felt in my arms, neck or back. Anytime i got nervous my heart would race and i would start freaking out. I was on asprin and plavix until about 6 months ago. It was a very scary experiance for me and everyone around me, but now i look at it as a gift. If that had happened to me 10 years ago, i would have died. I have heard of a few local cases that this has happened and while 1 mother lived, they got to her too late, and she lost oxygen to her brain and is just not the same. I feel so lucky. To stand here 5 years later i truely feel life is normal. No more meds, i am not scared of every little feeling. I look forward to seeing my cardiologist and getting that affirmation that everything looks great. Every day is a gift, and i am so greatful to be here and to be able to take care of my adorable 5 year old twins :)

SCAD at 40 after twins birth
by: Shar

Hi ladies. As I've read through some of your comments, I have tears well up in my eyes. This may sound so crazy, but it helps to know that I am not the only one who has gone through this experience of SCAD. I was always healthy, never smoked, no drugs, worked out, ate well, never overweight, no high blood pressure, great twin pregnancy after IVF treatments. Then, barely 24 hrs after the birth of my twin sons I had a massive heart attack due to spontaneous coronary artery dissection - it was my left anterior descending artery. We were told later that I was fortunate to have even survived. In the hospital they initially thought it was a blood clot to my lungs after my c-section, until they got the labs and ekg read - that day I became a heart patient forever. My beautiful and loving family members cared for our babies while my husband slept on the chair in my ICU room for days. To make a long story short, they did a double bypass around the damaged artery. God worked a miracle through my heart surgeon who I love dearly. As you all know, recovery was not fun, especially not being able to care for my two newborn boys. But thank God for my husband and mother who did what I couldn't do for months. The first year after my surgery I developed arhythmia and they implanted a pacemaker/defibrillator in my chest, which I am grateful for today - it gives my husband and I a sense of security. My boys are 5 years old now, and I manage to chase after them, break up their fights over toys, help with homework, pick up and drop off every day from school, and actually managed to go back to school myself and get a masters degree so that I could go back to work and teach part-time. I take my four meds every day to help my strained heart, but I thank God for pulling me through and keeping me alive and well. Now I pray that I will continue to do well and surprise my doctors at each appointment. I want to watch my twin boys graduate from high school and college and find the girl of their dreams! And I want to grow old lovingly with my wonderful husband. I pray for these things for each of you who have also experienced this rare cardiac. God bless you all. Aloha, Shar

I had SCAD 13 years ago
by: Melissa

I had scad 13 years ago. I was 11 days postpartum after my second child. My dissection was the right coronary artery and I have what is called a full metal jacket 6 stents.

by: Bonnie

I just turned 57 and had my heart event on Mother's Day 2011. I had been feeling tired for several months. Four arteries in my heart dissected causing a heart attack. My cardiologist and surgeon were my angels. Their quick thinking and actions saved my life. The cardio Dr had never seen a SCAD patient before but he had read about it and knew to do bypass immediately. So I now have 3 bypasses and 2 stints... And my life back. It appears to be a genetic disease as my mother died 30 years ago at 46 of a sudden cardiac event. In fact, my experiences that fateful day mirrored her day... Except for medical advances that saved my life. I now warn every woman I know to be aware that we can have silent heart attacks and they not all caused by plaque in our arteries. So ladies, you are not alone. We have to support each woman out there who has had this experience... I feel bad for my 5 children and 10 grandchildren who may inherit this deadly disease. I am going to work with my cardiologist and geneticist to learn more about how to test for and possibly prevent SCAD.

by: Jennie

I don't mind answering any questions that you may have! Ever since my surgery I have been taking 325 mg of aspirin once a day, 20 mg of simvistatin (generic plavix, I think) once a day, metoprolol 100 mg once a day, and lisinipril 20 mg twice a day. I have been worried about taking the simvistatin, too. Would taking the simvistatin prevent the arteries from healing? I asked my cardiologist how to know if they have healed on their own and he said the only way to know is if they do a catherization, and he wouldn't do it because at this point it would be considered "invasive" and not necessary. I don't like not knowing! I wish that I had the "best cardiologist in the area" as you are so lucky to have, but I have stuck with the cardiologist that was on call at the hospital the night that I needed him and took care of me. Guess I am just sentimental that way. :) I had my surgery on June 5th 2009. I have an echo done once a year now. I only have to see him once a year. I have to have a liver panel done every six months because of the simvistatin. They used the saphenous? vein from my leg to do the bypasses. I have heard that that vein doesn't last as long as a vein graft as the mammary? artery? vein? does. Sorry, I don't know the terms very well. I worry that my coronary arteries have not healed on their own and one day the grafts might fail. :/ I worry alot, too! I am interested in any information that you would like to share about yourself, your surgery, your recovery, how you have dealt with it all emotionally. I have felt very alone, since this doesn't happen very often, and no one really knows how it feels to never get a straight answer. My cardiologist is very confident that "pregnancy" was the cause. Something about hormones and collagen in the artery walls. I am not real clear on it, and I don't really think that any one else is either! Facebook Jennie Smith (Sharp) China Grove NC

by: Amy

I am checking back:) How are you doing? I am doing ok. I am healing really well, but seem to get all of this information thrown at me and it is hard for me to handle sometimes as I am a worrier!

They attempted to put stents in and that was unsuccessful, so know, with the bypass, they are trying to figure out if I need to be on a long term blood thinner just in case the arteries regenerate and start working again.

All of the people that worked with me during the event are sure that this is caused from pregnancy hormones, but I have had other doctors ask if it could be an underlying condition, like a connective tissue disorder. So, I asked my doctor and he didn't think so but to ease my mine, ordered some blood work. So now I am waiting for that. It is just hard to believe what one doctor says over another!

I had the best surgeon in Columbus, Ohio perform my bypass and I really feel I should trust him and he think totally caused by pregnancy and never mentioned anything like Plavix in case the arteries regenerate. But know I am confused a bit.

If you don't mind what meds are you on and how often to you check in with a cardiologist?

Would be great to talk further! :)

Hope you are doing well,


To Amy
by: Jennie

I hope you live a long life, too! I hope that you come back to this site, so that we might be able to talk some more. It's hard to find someone who has had this happen to them. I have to explain to people that I didn't have a "regular, artery clogged heart attack". That sounds horrible, but it is the truth. I sincerely would like to know how you are doing.

I had the same thing and am dealing with the same feelings!
by: Amy

I had the same thing happen. Mine was a week after my second child and I also had a triple bypass. I am very nervous about it happening again, but my surgeon doesn't think it will. I have been through ups and downs mentally and have had some panic attacks as well.

I am now 7 weeks post op and am feeling a little better and realize that I can't just let this control me. I am living every day to the fullest and hope I live a long life:)

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