By Rebbecca Sita, Accounts Payable & Reconciliations Supervisor, Transact Payments
Today is World Heart Day. And it is a day that is very dear to my own heart.
That’s because seven days after the birth of my third child I had a heart attack at the age of 33.
I was very lucky that my doctors were so great and my life was saved. Yet, it wasn’t just a “normal” heart attack. It was what is called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). My doctors rushed me to a specialist hospital in Spain to undergo emergency surgery, which resulted in seven stents being placed. Complications and a bleed in the lungs added to the “fun”! The scariest moment I recall was arguing with the doctors when they were trying to convince me to bring my children in to say goodbye “just in case”. I refused.
As the name suggests, what makes SCAD so deadly is that it cannot be predicted. People who have SCAD often don’t have other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Instead, it strikes when a tear/bruise develops in the arteries causing a blockage. While research into what causes SCAD continues, I am part of the 10% of patients that are referred to as Pregnancy-SCAD (P-SCAD). Current research suggests that 10% of SCAD patients are men, and whilst it predominantly occurs in women, anyone can be affected by it.
The road to recovery from SCAD is no walk in the park either. I spent three months strapped to monitors, at various hospitals (including an air ambulance trip over to the UK) before I was finally able to come home to my family. Rehabilitation took a long time and I’ll never be back to my pre-SCAD self. I enjoy a breakfast of 7 tablets, and a nightcap of 2 more. My life is now filled with yearly check-ups and scans, regular blood tests, and monitoring…
Coming up to my four-year anniversary it is still a daily struggle with the residual effects of my experience both physically and mentally. But I am very glad and thankful to still be here.
What World Heart Day means to me
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including SCAD, are the leading cause of death globally. They take an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and other conditions. More than four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, with one-third occurring prematurely in people under 70 years of age.
This is why World Heart Day is so important; so many people are affected by this health issue around the globe. Critically though, the day also reminds us how varied and complex some heart conditions are, and it serves as a good time to highlight the lesser-known conditions. Awareness of conditions like SCAD, among medical professionals and the general public, is paramount in saving lives.
Awareness events are a key part of bringing more visibility to these issues, in the UK and far beyond. By taking part, much-needed funds can be raised to help aid research to try to solve these health problems.
Sharing my experience is very important to me, but so is giving back and that’s why holding a bake sale is something I love to do for World Heart Day to help raise funds for the BeatSCAD charity. Transact Payments has also been incredibly supportive on a professional and personal level since day one and for that, I am so thankful. c
My doctors’ awareness saved my life. Hopefully, with World Heart Day’s great work, we can save more!