Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SCAD, Interrupted (The one with some answers?!)

For the last two years and nine months, I haven't had any answers about why I suffered/survived a post-partum Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) and heart attack at the age of 28. No doctor could tell me why it happened or how it happened or if it would happen again. Some doctors listed off "associated" or "contributing" factors - maybe pregnancy or hormones or use of contraception. I shouldn't say "some" doctors - really, really smart doctors who are revered in their field & know alot about medicine and hearts and are good at what they do*.

So. Try to imagine my surprise (shock, disbelief) when a new doctor (who isn't even a cardiologist), who I've seen twice, manages to uncover not one but TWO abnormalities during a routine set of blood tests.  I won't go as far as to say that either abnormality  is a "causal" factor of my SCAD. But seriously - I've been poked and prodded and scanned and tested for every damn thing under the sun to no avail. I've been asked numerous times to admit to a drug habit (does a daily 5oz of wine count?) that would explain everything. This obviously makes sense because heart disease must be my fault. I must have done something to myself that caused my heart attack. That's the only way to explain it, right?


So, let me try to walk you through my own mini-medical breakthrough.
  • I test positive for Lupus Anticoagulant Antibodies. This pretty much means I am more prone to blood clots than the general population and this particular antibody attacks the lining of blood vessels. We'll never know if I developed this prior to my SCAD or in response to my SCAD. 
  •  I also have two janky copies of my Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase - MTHFR - gene. First of all - that's the worst abbreviation EVER. MTHFR - really?? LOL. The takeaway here is that a MTHFR mutation can increase risk of heart attack and stroke.
To summarize - I have a double-whammy genetic pre-disposition to heart attack and an antibody that attacks the lining of blood vessels and encourages blood clots. 

To remind - During my SCAD, my Left Anterior Descending (LAD) Coronary Artery (aka The Widowmaker), dissected  (exposing the vessel lining) and a blood clot formed, causing a heart attack.

Does knowing more change anything? 

I'm not sure. There's a part of me that wishes heart disease was something I'd done to myself because maybe then, I wouldn't have to worry that I passed along a genetic crap pile to my sweet kid. But it's becoming increasingly clear that all of this really was out of my control. It is possible that I was doing everything right. But it doesn't matter what I did. Now, it only matters what I do - with my health, to my body and for others. 

American Heart Month starts this Saturday and Wear Red Day is Friday, February 7th. I hope you'll wear red to honor those in your lives living with or lost to heart disease. I have alot to be thankful for and will be in red from my lips to my toenails! 

"Most kind of stories
Save the best part for last
And most stories have a hero who finds
You make your past your past

It's a brand new day
The sun is shining
It's a brand new day
For the first time in such a long long time
I know, I'll be ok....." - Joshua Radin

*A quick note: 
As you know, I'm not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. What is written here is my interpretation of my own medical condition - please don't take it to be medical advice or guidance or anything other that me talking about my reality. If you have questions about your own health/medical condition, consult your own doctor or a healthcare professional

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