We, My SCAD and I: Nisha
“My name is Nisha. I am a 27-year-old female who first suffered from SCAD at the age of 25. I currently reside in Atlanta, GA, where I work for DeKalb County Board of Health. Aside from working, I enjoy baking and spending quality time with my family and friends. My girlfriend, Jen, and I live with our mini beagle, whom is much like our son. Jen is a wonderful addition to my life as well as a tremendous supporter. Despite all of the delightful aspects of my life, I still continued to battle with anxiety. However, this time, it was worse than it had ever been before.
I began feeling like I was experiencing really bad acid reflux. The burning sensation moved from right to left on my chest, directly under my bra. At the most random moments, I began experiencing minor chest pains which is when I knew it was time to go to the ER. The ER doctor ran blood tests and an x-ray. Everything came back normal. However, he then decided to test my troponin levels. I’m not sure what made him do it, but I’m forever grateful that he did because they were EXTREMELY high. The cardiologist then ordered an Echocardiogram and a few hours later, I had a heart catheterization procedure performed. The heart cath showed a 20% dissection in my LAD due to Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). I was hospitalized for a few days in CCU and was released on Plavix, Aspirin, Pravastatin, and Metoprolol.
It was clear that the doctor was not knowledgeable about SCAD because I was not given any restrictions on activity or lifting. The day after I was released, I went to visit my niece who lived on the third floor. After climbing her 3 flights of stairs, I began to feel pressure in my chest. My family rushed me to the ER, where I was informed that my LAD had dissected further. While in the cath lab, the cardiologist did state that I showed signs of healing.
Later that day, I was transferred to Emory Hospital Midtown. This is where I met my current cardiologist, Dr. Jaber and his nurse practitioner, Amanda. They were wonderful and very knowledgeable about SCAD. After reviewing images and documents from the previous hospitals (before I was transferred to Emory I was seen at 3 hospitals), Dr. Jaber informed me that a stent would not do anything more than tear my artery further because the tear was too far down. He was sure the best option was to treat it medically. Dr. Jaber and Amanda both decided to discontinue the Pravastatin. April of 2015 I was taking Plavix, Aspirin, and Metoprolol. I was also taking a Centrum vitamin and pantoprazole.
After about three months of continued chest pain, Dr. Jaber became concerned and ordered a stress test. The stress test showed evidence of a blockage. He suggested bypass surgery. My sister, who is like a mother to me, decided to do more research and discussed the possibility of a second and third opinion with my doctor.
While researching SCAD, my sister came across a website where she started communicating with another woman who had SCAD. Meanwhile, I had found my own SCAD support system, source of knowledge, and research on the SCAD Facebook group. I met a woman named Noelle who lives in Ohio and had a SCAD as well. We talked about everything. She knew exactly what I was going through because we were going through it together! We talked about our signs and symptoms as well as the emotional side of SCAD. She was such an awesome supporter to me that I think of her as an angel. One day my sister told me that the woman she had met online suggested that I get an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic. I thought that it was some sort of sign because Noelle was always telling me that I should be seen at the Cleveland Clinic. Then a light bulb went off and my sister and I began to compare all of the similar advice that we were getting. Sure enough, the woman who she had been communicating online with was Noelle!
In October 2015, I went to the Cleveland Clinic to meet with Dr. Kim. I was also able to meet Noelle and her family in person for the first time. While in Cleveland, the clinic ran a series of tests which all came back normal. The tests showed that my dissection was still there; however, it had not torn any further than previously nor was it life threatening. She also decided to treat it medically. Dr. Kim prescribed Ranexa for the chest pain and suggested that I do cardiac rehab for a few months to make my heart stronger. I did cardiac rehab for about 2 months with no issues.
In January 2016, my girlfriend and I traveled to Rochester, MN to meet with Dr. Hayes for a third opinion. They also ran a series of tests, which came back normal. Dr. Hayes discontinued my use of Plavix because I did not have a stent; therefore, there was no need for it. She wanted me to do a stress test there but my flight was leaving out early the next morning, so she scheduled a stress test and a CT Angiogram with my local cardiologist.
The stress test was done at Emory in February 2016 and it was normal! I was cleared by my doctor to work out, yet I still had to take it easy. On March 18, 2016 I had my CT Angiogram and I was ecstatic to find out that I had healed completely. I am currently only taking Aspirin, once a day. I take Ativan for anxiety, as needed; my daily vitamin, and ranitidine for acid reflux once a day.
I am extremely thankful and grateful that I am healed. Faith is literally everything. I just had to hold onto the hope that I would get better… that I would be healed.
One of my biggest supporters is my sister, Mesha. She researched SCAD to the T, and became educated enough in SCAD to advise me on my options, specialists, clinics, everything! My girlfriend, Jen, was also very supportive throughout my SCAD recovery. She stayed with me as much as she could, but she was in the military and was stationed in Kansas at the time. She would fly back home every weekend and every chance that she got and took over all of the manual chores. She also changed our diets and helped me stick to a heart healthy, low sodium diet. My niece, Kiyonna, spent every night in the hospital with me so that I wouldn’t have to be alone. My family is very important to me. They mean the world to me. My sister, my niece, Noelle, and Jen were by my side the ENTIRE time. These women held the line and pulled me through. I am so thankful and blessed to have them in my life.
Sometimes medication can only do so much. It keeps us alive, but I was also looking for something to help me feel better. I started drinking a smoothie that is good for my arteries every morning: one half cup of Pomegranate juice, 4 strawberries, one half cup of plain yogurt (I used Greek), and one half of a banana. I also started drinking pomegranate juice almost every day. It has a horrible taste, but many health benefits.
I honestly believe that SCAD changed my life for the better. It caused me to be a calmer and more relaxed person. I see things so differently now. The old me used to get so riled up and my mind was always racing and I was just everywhere. Since my SCAD, I am more laid back and I just go with the flow of things. I absolutely love who I’ve become.
I would like everyone to know that my experience did not break me, at all. It made me the person who I am today. I would also like everyone to know that it does get better, much better with time. Of course, you have your not so good days, but just push through them just like any other day. The dizzy spells and the tiredness do not last forever. They come and go. This is my new way of living and I’ve learned to love and embrace it!”
SCAD Research Inc. is the largest contributor of research funds to the Mayo Clinic. To learn more about SCAD or to donate, please visit: http://www.scadresearch.org/donate/ #scadstories
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- Note that all SCAD patients and their medical needs are specific to their medical condition. SRI does not give medical advice or recommended any doctor, facility, or treatment plan above another. If you are interested in the facilities or treatments that worked well for Nisha, consult your physician about what is right for your situation.