New to all of this.

I had a angiogram on 7/10/12 and found out that I had a coronary artery dissection. They put three stents in. I am new to all this and my emotions are very high strung. I was a perfectly healthy woman and now I was told I needed to change my whole life style because of what happened to me. I don't even know where to begin. I find myself wondering why this happened to me and where do I go from here. Is there anyone who can give me advice on this, about diet or anything else I am feeling right now????

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Welcome to this site, Carrie,
Sorry you have this new problem to deal with. I know you must be feeling overwhelmed and a little frightened.
There are lots of folks here who will be happy to respond to your requests for information, and there are peer support groups in most areas of the country where you can connect with other women who are living with heart disease.
Ask you doctor's office about Cardiac Rehab classes and group meetings, etc.
Post away on this board - there are folks here who can offer some insight and moral support. For medical advice - you'll still have see your doctor, of course.
All the best Carrie,
Margaret

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Welcome to this site. So sorry for your struggles. I agree with Margaret that Cardiac Rehab, this site and local support groups will offer you lots of the support and encouragement you need. You also may want to consider having a family meeting. I see in your profile that you are so committed to your family and that's a wonderful thing. Now you need to add your own needs to that list. You may feel overwhelmed and even guilty about this at first but I can assure you, the people who love you can grow stronger and better because of all this. My kids were young when they faced not only my heart disease but also their dad's battle with cancer. And now they are incredible twenty-somethings who have a real appreciation for what's important in this life. Kids don't get that from video games and hanging out at the mall.
As far as making lifestyle changes, Dr. Oz's and Dr. Joel Fuhrman's websites are great sources of healthy eating and healthy living. They are a good place to start. You may even find a female friend who will want to incorporate these changes along side you.
I wish you well. Please stary connected.
Blessings, Rudywg

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Carrie --

Welcome. It takes a while for the mind to wrap itself around the idea that -- in many ways -- one is not the same person as he or she was the day before receiving the information and treatment. Two days ago my cardiologist told me that the ekg taken that day revealed that I might have had a heart attack in the past. My mind is still trying to incorporate that into the concept of who I am.

I'm someone who has had two TIAs and is under treatment for tachycardia, but now I have a different history. Yesterday my ophthalmologist told me my eyeglass prescription isn't wrong; I may need surgery on one eye.

Your recent medical history makes your present life fit into that new buzzword, "the new normal." You will begin to feel more secure when you start making the lifestyle changes your doctor recommends.

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Hi Carrie,
I totally understand where you are coming from, early this year i was a health woman as well.
I found out i have a congenital heart problem, that i have had all my life and didn't know.

There is a spontaneous coronary artery dissection SCAD support group on facebook, with lots of
lovely people there who will welcome you and answer any questions you have.

And this is a great site, i have had some wonderful support from the people on here.
And believe me i have been hard work just lately. I am off for OHS on Tuesday and have
been stressing and telling anyone who will listen all about my fears :-)

Take care, ask lots of questions,


Hettie

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That is what happened to me. I was a FAST and productive person above average IQ and in the med field. I am still not at ease with my life. My diet has changed from normal to almost vegan, I do not smoke, I have to walk and i have to learn breathing again, and I should know all this! I am a therapist! A stressed one, big time, many issues not related to a lousy heart. Primary breadwinner. I cannot advise you to on how to feel.
I feel miserable half the time and high as a kite on helium the next. That's the meds fighting with me; and I am having some trouble working my usual 8-12 hr day and other people's reactions when I tell them I am TIRED.

However you have come to the right place. If I knew more about you I could help you with diet and exercise, precautions etc and NOT freak you out. Please contact me for anything at any time.

Sandy

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Hi Carrie, Welcome to the heart sister's we are all here for you....I know just how you are feeling...2 yrs ago I had HA with 3 stents..I was so upset an confused why did this happen to me...But this site is so great really helped me with just the friendship you have.
Right now I just had a angiagram an found out I have real bad angina an cad, mvd....But keep us posted an we are always here for you...(((HUGS))), Wendy

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Hi Carrie,

I'm sorry to hear your news. Your story sounds similar to what I went through about 2 months to the day before you. Although some things have changed for me I haven't been told and don't expect to "change my lifestyle." So depending on what your lifestyle is you might need to make some adjustments, you know if you have bad habits that need to be stopped. Other than taking new medications where before I had none, not too much has changed for me externally. Initially in the few weeks after recovery I was moving slower, it was a little harder to breathe, and I slept A LOT during my 3 weeks of medical leave but now at 10 weeks post SCAD, I feel physically OK. Every once in awhile I will feel something in my chest that freaks me out but almost as soon as I start to panic about it, it goes away. My Dr. and the nurses in cardiac rehab have confirmed that despite what happened I am still healthy! Coming to terms with the fact that our bodies gave out on us in a world where we are brainwashed to believe that you have to be unhealthy for something to go wrong in your cardiovascular system is hard to accept. There is lots of good advice and resources on this site and there is the SCAD group on facebook as Hettie mentioned. Just being able to share day to day issues with others who have experienced this has been helpful for me. Sometimes it's too much and can cause more anxiety than it's worth honestly, but still nice knowing others are going through what you've been through physically and emotionally.

Best,
Denise

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Hi
Sorry to hear about your SCAD. There are lots of us SCAD survivors on here and also on Facebook SCAD support who all understand what your going through. I was 34 when I had my scad and heart attack 9mths ago. I am a healthy, regular exercising, non smoker, good cholesterol, low blood pressure etc so like you it was a massive shock to have this happen. I didn't need to make any major lifestyle adjustments, other than now on meds for life.
It's still very early days for you, once you feel a bit better you might want to consider taking part in the Mayo Clinic SCAD studies and definitely go for cardiac rehab if it's available to you.

take care
B x

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Hi Carrie,

Welcome to, as we say, the club that no one wants to join. We're glad you found us, though. A lot of us with dissections have "why me?"-type questions. Especially early on, it's common for your emotions to be all over the place. It's a lot to get used to, now that our lives are forever divided into "before" and "after."

Do you have a follow-up appointment with your cardiologist coming up soon?

Some questions you might want to ask: what medications are you on, why were they prescribed, how long do they expect you to take them (a lot of dissection patients get the standard "cardiac cocktail" thrown at us, even though we don't have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc), what can you do to mitigate side effects.

Also, please ask about a referral for cardiac rehab; it was one of the best things I did as far as regaining confidence in my own body. In addition to exercising under medical supervision, with a cardiologist on staff and regular blood pressure checks and mini-EKGs, they usually have classes in healthy eating, stress management, and more. You may be the youngest person there and one of the only women, but please go anyway.

Also, the people here are a great source of support, so please feel free to ask us anything. We're here for you.

best wishes,
Laura

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Hi Carrie. I'm sorry to hear about your SCAD and your doctor's comment about lifestyle. Was he/she more specific? Because of your good health before, as is the case with the majority of SCAd patients, it seems odd he would recommend lifestyle changes. If you can form a good relationship with the cardio nurse in the practice or one of the counselors at cardiac rehab, that will help a great deal. You definitely haven't done anything to deserve SCAD!!

Read through the Spontaneous coronary artery dissection section (under discussions) and you'll see a lot of current information. a major journal article and analysis came out from Mayo Clinic this week. You'll also see there is a SCAD research study going on that you can participate in as well. it is virtual, so no travel necessary. Just a phone call to get the ball rolling! Let me know if you need help finding it.
Hang in there.
Katherine

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Hi Carrie, I just wanted to comment about lifestyle changes.
No one is saying you were BAD!
However certain things must be controlled for you to live a great life - your stress levels. your diet, and the way that you exercise.

I am a therapist who poo pooed this big time after 5 procedures and stents and went back to work, as a therapist in Cardiac Rehab. I do not know it all. That is for sure.

My co-workers keep telling me to slow down and relax (I am a fast person) and I tend to get upset easily. Now I get TIRED so so tired I cannot dress myself some days. After work I collapse. I seem to be getting worse and not better.

I should have listened to my own advise.

Now I have just had a lung function test, and probably another surgery, I fell hard on the treadmill for the stress test, and I have NO core strength or endurance. There --I said it.
I feel like I am the most stupid of stupid people some times (today - one of them).

Why the HECK didn't I go straight to cardio rehab? I DID change my diet and I exercise a lot but perhaps that was NOT the right kind. I walk and stretch and swim, this is good. Then one evening I passed out in the tub. No more swimming or bathing without supervision. I cannot eat most foods, I have a complicated history surgically and I am probably going to have to bite the bullet and have CABG within the month. My GI tract is ruined. I had no insurance when I came to the USA and the surgeons took out the wrong bits. I was in a diaper for 3 years; dependent on others for a lot of stuff and YOUNGER then. Now that I am a little older and no wiser, boom Here I am hit with a heart attack the worst kind Widow maker and I save my own life. But alas after all the BS and the hospitals and the cuts and bruising and fainting and falls and not making it to the toilet in time - I wish I could go back to 98 and personally castrate those GI docs without anaesthesia for what they took away from me. They ruined my liver pancreas esophagus bowels and more. Had to have 4 more surgeries to fix the scarring and be able to eat independently.

That was horrible, and now that I am older than 25 I guess that my positive attitude and fighting spirit are what kept me going. I had to change my life again last year and this year. No driving, no fun, no tasty foods, just bloody pills which make me ill.

I am so thankful for what I do have though - a good brain. A fast one. I have a lovely daughter and loving husband. He has dedicated his life to preparing healthy digestible foods for me. I am determined to get over this, ALL of it and take my life back.

That's the plan!

Good luck to you - its hard but worth it and you NEVER know when it will happen again or if it will happen again so I have chosen to NOT think about it 24/7 and I cannot slow down - I am a tortoise already. I KNOW I am not doing well and yes, I am scared.

Remember that you are the ruler of your body and how you react and live. I was given a slim chance of life and I took it. The quality sucks right now but I have a few good days.
And so shall you!

Take care and G-d bless

Sandy

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I want to say thank you to all that have responded with so many kind words. I ended up being life flighted to the u of u hospital again because of chest pain. They say that my arteries are having spasms, and it is causing them to narrow and block off. So they had to put another stent in. That makes four stents in a total of two weeeks. Very scary considering I still have young children at home. Still wondering why me. As for the lifestyle changes I was always a pretty healthy, so they just want me to have a better diet and a low sodium diet. I have never been one for dieting I actually hate that word. I am sure with time I will get used to everything just very overwhelming. At first they didn't send me to cardio rehab thay are now. The hospital is actally writing a study up on me because I am such a rare case, they have also told me to join the study at the Mayo cinic for scad. thank you all once again

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I had a SCAD two weeks ago. I was healthy. 36 yrs old. Just started a nutrition boot camp 2 months prior and exercise classes a month prior. I feel good, but get tired easily. My emotions are crazy. I'll be fine, then start thinking about the heart attack and freak out. I keep crying. I am in cardiac rehab now for 12 weeks. I get upset there because I was doing so much more 2 weeks ago than I am doing now. I hope I can get past this Post Traumatic Stress.

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Another one? TG they fixed it. I may look younger than I am but I too had 5 procedures between September and February. Ask your cardiologist if ANY of the meds you take can cause spasms like this. Also, you did mention that you hate diets (I have yet to meet anyone who loves the devils) but the salt is not the only problem. It's the FATS and cholesterol. Mine was at 400 4 months ago now down to just under 300 for BAD cholesterol; I had been on statins with no luck for months and the pills made me sick. I forgot to remember. I spoke to my doctor and we went through all 200 - pills I take daily (kidding its 11 in the AM 7 when I get home and 6 at night. No junky. I take a lot of herbal supplements instead of the regular BP and Cholesterol meds. Your MD is the one to listen to here, but you may find a short investigation into your medications may give you an answer. If not, then it's something else. I am betting on STRESS.

I get to take yucky Loveza which makes me feel pregnant and bloated and Plavix as you must be, and aspirin. The rest are herbs, and they seen to be working.

Good luck and you HAVE come to the right place.
Sandy

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Hi,

I share all the feelings you are having. I too was a fit and healthy woman 12 months ago. I was lucky that being an athlete meant I knew my body and I got an early diagnosis of Coronary Artery spasm before anything major happened. I went from being superwoman aged newly 40 to about 90 overnight. This was in March 2012 and since then I have gained lots of support and information from people on this site. I feel it is so beneficial to share from those who have gone through the same or similar to you. It can otherwise feel a very loney road. Even friends say things like "but you are fine. you should be greatful etc" They don't understand and they dont realise that it is not just something that has happened but something which is lifechanging for the future and something you now have to live with.

My advice would be:
1. Let things get better slowly. It is frustrating but necessary. You will feel tired and any meds can have nasty side effects that leave you feeling different at best. Let this be your initial focus and don't worry about the bigger picture.
2. Learn to destress. Lots of people told me off on here with my "I am going to fight this" attitude. But they were right. Stress is often part of the problem. Learn to deal with it and that some things are just not worth worrying about.
3. When you feel up to it, do your research. There is lots of information on alternative supplements such as L'Arginine, L'Carnitine, L'Citrulline, Magnesium, co-enzyme Q10 and more. Many people on this website swear by them for different heart related issues. I did my rersearch and now use these tablets. I have found amazing results when used in conjunction with my prescribed meds.
4. If you are not happy with the way things are going after a few months then get a second opinion. It is your life and sometimes well meaning doctors do not realise how diffucult some of the symptoms are to live with. If things are not quite right for you then they need sorting.

Hope that is helpful but don't forget you are not alone.

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Hi Carrie-
I'm so sorry you had to go through this. It stinks! Believe me when I tell you it gets better with time. I have reached my one year mark - my SCAD was in May of last year. I was perfectly healthy as well and I can totally relate to the shock you are feeling. After a while you'll start feeling stronger and more secure. For now, just try to take it one day at a time and listen to your body.
We are all here for you if you have any questions or need help.
:)Kathy

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What is the support group on Facebook called?

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Hi Carrie, I'm so sorry to hear about your spasm and additional hospitalization. There is another woman struggling with spasm in the SCAD group ... i'll send her a note and see if she can add her experience.

Glad to hear that your hospital/doctors are taking and interest and already recommended participating in the research! Please keep us posted about what's going on.
katherine

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Hi Carrie,

I am the other woman Katherine mentioned with spasms. I had my SCAD in January of this year. Since then Imhave been hospitalized six more times with spasms. I am going out to the mayo clinic in Minnesota August 1st and 2nd and will be happy to bring back. Any helpful info I get from them. Until then if you want to talk you can reach. Me at 860-461-1185.

Karin

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