SCAD | Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

My Story:

I am (or was) a healthy 70 year old with a very active lifestyle…daily exerciser…extremely low blood pressure, low cholesterol…no meds at all…and getting ready to celebrate 3 years of a Whole Foods/Plant-based diet…eating fresh, no meat or diary and very little processed foods.  I was in perfect health…or so I thought!

A few weeks ago, I started experiencing chest tightness which then radiated into my back and arms, but ONLY while exercising…no shortness of breath, just tightness.  As soon as my workout was over, I was back to normal…full of energy, ready to face my day.  I am not proud of the fact that I let this go on for several weeks, attributing these feelings to holiday stress.

Recently, while hiking on a very hilly terrain with a friend, I started experiencing these symptoms again. I felt the need to slow down. It was then that I felt the need to share my secret with my friend.  I am so thankful that I did because she convinced my to see my doctor and that advice, most likely, saved my life!

I saw my doctor immediately.  My blood tests revealed a slight rise in my troponin levels…which shockingly revealed that heart damaged had occurred.    I had already had a heart attack and I did not even know it.

I could not even begin to process all of this!   How could this be?!?  I have always felt invincible…ahead of the game…a health and wellness coach!   How can I possibly share this new information with my clients…?  Impostor syndrome began to set in.

I had suffered a SCAD Heart Attack…Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, having nothing to do with my lifestyle, but my lifestyle very possibly saved my life!

SCAD | an emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in a blood vessel in the heart.  SCAD can slow or block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack, heart rhythms problems (arrhythmias) or sudden death.

While the condition is responsible for a small percentage (about 1 to 4 percent) of all heart attacks, SCAD is the cause of about 1/3 of heart attacks in women younger than 50.  It is the leading cause of pregnancy-associated heart attacks, as well.

Experts aren’t sure what causes SCAD…possibly hereditary, excessive exercising, extreme stress but the fact that it happens most often to healthy, fit females is the most frightening part.   We are the ones who think “nothing could ever happen to me…I’m invisible” and we are less likely to get things checked out in a timely manner.

I am grateful to be back home now…resting my body and trying to quieten my brain…learning and intending to live a beautiful life in a totally different way.

So, now I know exactly how I want to share my story with my clients and everyone that I possibly can!  I no longer feel like an imposter.  There was absolutely nothing I could have done to have prevented this from happening…or happening again.  Now, it is my mission to spread the word regarding SCAD because, YES, you can be totally healthy and still have a heart attack!

Please share this valuable information with your Moms, Aunts, Sisters, Daughters…all your LOVES!  (Those who suffer from SCAD are 90% female)



Martha.  XOXO

Sources:  Vanderbilt Cardiology, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association,