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Leanne’s story

This is my story... Our son was born in June 2010 - a very healthy 10.3lb! Less than 2 weeks later, in the early hours of the morning, I suffered sudden deep pain in the centre of my chest, so painful I knew something was drastically wrong.

Doctors in the emergency department at the hospital advised I had possibly had a heart attack! But how could this be, I had a new baby at home.

I was sent to Wellington Hospital by air ambulance for further investigations which revealed dissections (splits) in 2 of the main arteries in my heart, then causing a heart attack. Cardiologists advised they would have required at least 6 stents to repair the damage, however as the arteries were showing signs of repair (in 5 days), they would complete another check up in 4 months and hope all repaired themselves. I was put on aspirin and a beta blocker, later a blood pressure medication all as a precaution.

My bp was normally fairly average. Cholestrol perfect. As far as heart risk - I was a very low risk. I've never smoked, a non drinker, had a healthy diet, was a regular exerciser and average weight. This is a very rare condition called 'SCAD' Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. A condition which appears to strike healthy women (some post partum). The cause is not known however pregnancy, stress, hormones, physical exertion, & auto immune diseases are a few of the factors being looked into.

A cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic in USA has begun this research. For me any feeling, pain, sensation in my upper body creates anxiety - which has improved overtime. At the end of the day though like others, we do not know what caused the condition and whether it will reoccur.

I am very lucky to be alive, have a gorgeous 19 mth old son, partner and family who have been very supportive throughout this time.

I am writing my story to help raise awareness about a condition which may also be going undiagnosed. I want to become involved in heart fundraising and am volunteering in the annual appeal this month.