Sarah Ford was a healthy, fit young mum playing indoor netball when she suddenly suffered heart attack.The 39-year-old thought she had simply overdone it on the court but when the pain in her right arm intensified and she was unable to walk, she was rushed to hospital.
“My heart started beating out of my chest, I couldn’t catch my breath and I was really dizzy,” Ms Ford recalls.
At first doctors thought she was dehydrated, but tests revealed something far more sinister. The netballer had suffered a SCAD – spontaneous coronary artery dissection.
A rare condition that affects mostly women between 30 and 50 and occurs without warning.
Ms Fords’ frustration at the lack of publicity and understanding of SCAD motivated her to start SCAD Research Inc, a national organisation that raises awareness about the condition.
“We want to raise awareness of SCAD heart attacks so that women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are healthy, fit and active seek urgent medical advice if they have any heart attack symptoms,” Ms Ford said.
Perth women with similar experiences gathered at Lake Monger Reserve last weekend for the inaugural 5k SCADaddle for SCAD event.
Dressed in red, six WA survivors were joined by family and friends on Sunday morning to raise money and awareness for SCAD medical research.
“In hospital they were telling me that it was rare and there is not a lot of information out there, and I’m not the kind of person who thinks that is acceptable,” she said.
Joining her was Marisa Simmons, 46, who had a SCAD heart attack one Saturday while she was relaxing with her family.
“I had a sharp pain my arms and felt as though someone was hand washing my heart,” she recalls.
“At the moment there are a lot of questions but not a lot of answers,” she said.
Heart Foundation Clinical Engagement Coordinator Shelley McRae says it is important for people to recognise the symptoms of a SCAD heart attack.
“We applaud the work of SCAD survivors who are raising awareness about this heart condition and it is important that research in this area continues,” Ms McRae said.