Monday Motivation: Margaret suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and almost died. She believes she’s been given a second chance at life.
This week’s Monday Motivation is Margaret Davis. Her health scare nearly cost her her life but now she is living life to the fullest. She said. “My SCAD happened after I fell down an embankment in the Lake District. I badly dislocated my elbow. One plaster cast at Royal Lancaster Infirmary later, and I was back in the holiday cottage feeling fine. The next morning I collapsed as an artery in my heart burst open. My husband, Stewart, is a police officer and quickly called 999. When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics spent a long time trying to revive me. The paramedics promptly took me back to Royal Lancaster Infirmary. I was told I had suffered a heart attack.
“I had to spend a few days in intensive care. The surgeon then told me about Dr Wood at a hospital in Leicester who was currently researching a lot about SCADs.
“No one knows for certain what causes a SCAD. I don’t have coronary heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol problems, the artery just randomly or spontaneously burst. There are no symptoms and there is no cure. If you have a heart attack, medics will help your recovery by working towards things like lowering your blood pressure or addressing cholesterol problems, but there is nothing for women like me.
“I have spent the last year fighting for my health. I basically went through a journey of learning how to live with a condition that most doctors don’t know about.
“My self-esteem took a big hit. My hair also fell out, my skin felt paper thin and my nails kept breaking. However, I count myself lucky as many women don’t survive a SCAD.
“Shockingly there are no specialist SCAD clinics in Scotland. So many women aren’t getting the level of help that they need because their type of heart attack doesn’t qualify for rehab.
“Rehab helped me to get my confidence back and allowed me to talk freely when I had a ‘bad’ day. The nurses soon got me dancing again to my favourite bands – Bon Jovi and Ocean Colour Scene.
“For me, finding the BeatSCAD community was a real turning point. It wasn’t just about the practical advice, it was the sense of not being alone in this anymore. It is vital we try to raise more awareness on this issue.
“I don’t know what the future holds but I’m now on a different path with new people, priorities and experiences and I’m so excited to see where it goes. I didn’t die, I’m still here to live life.
“During lockdown I worked with the British Heart Foundation and the most amazing group of people on the Scottish Government’s Women’s Health Plan. It has now moved into implementation, it’s a fantastic initiative.
“My experience taught me so many things. It literally changed my life. The main thing is perspective – I don’t care if I lose face or look stupid. I don’t have to win arguments or tell everyone my side of the story. I’d rather be kind than right. You don’t always get a second chance. I did and I’ll do everything I can with it.”
What is a SCAD?
A SCDAD is a tear in an artery wall in your heart that allows blood to build up in the space between the layers of your artery wall. This leads to a reduction or blockage of blood flow to your heart, and can cause cardiac arrest.
Around 90% of SCAD victims are females, aged 44 to 53, but it can happen as young as 18, according to the European Society of Cardiology.
Living in constant confusion about whether it could happen again or why it even happened in the first place, Margaret and Shannon have found support in the BeatSCAD help group set up by other survivors. The group is now campaigning for better diagnosis and treatment for SCAD. They are also telling their stories in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.
“I spent lockdown working with the British Heart Foundation and the most amazing group of people on the Scottish Government’s Women’s Health Plan which has now moved into implementation. It’s a fantastic initiative.
My experience taught me so many things, it literally changed my life. The main thing is perspective – I don’t care if I lose face or look stupid. I don’t have to win arguments or tell everyone my side of the story. I’d rather be kind than right. And love unconditionally, so many people deserve it. You don’t always get a second chance. I did and I’ll do everything I can with it.”
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Interview by Eve MacDonald.