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Challenging times for pregnant mum

Heart troubles were the last thing young and healthy Kerrie expected, but at 12 weeks pregnant with her second child, she experienced a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).

Kerri is a young woman in her twenties. She has long, fair hair and is wearing a pretty summer dress in a peach colour. She is standing in front of the camera with a ghost of a smile on her lips, like she is a bit shy to be photographed.

“It never crossed my mind that the pain I felt could have been caused by a heart problem,” she says. “I was more concerned that it was something to do with my pregnancy.”

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is when the lining of an artery tears and folds in on itself, which can create a blockage and cause a heart attack - this is different to clogged arteries or plaque, it is more of a mechanical issue. SCADs most often occur in women in their 40s or 50s, or those who are pregnant or have recently given birth.

Looking back, Kerrie remembers how scared she was of having another event after she gave birth. When her new baby was a few months old, Kerrie was feeling depressed and anxious so was referred onto the maternal mental health team.

“You don’t want to admit that you’re not coping. You’re supposed to cope. You’re supposed to get on with life.

“I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the SCAD. I would have periods of time where I was fine, then one day I would panic".

Kerrie hopes that by telling her story she can reach other young women who might not have the confidence to speak out when something is wrong and to reach out to organisations like the Heart Foundation who can help with support.

“Time is a healer. It’s taken me two years to be ok, but it’s changed my whole outlook on life. Everything is precious”.

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