Liza with family

Liza's story: SCAD

A mother of two survives a SCAD heart attack

"I suffered from SCAD which is a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. I was at an open inspection for a house we were looking at buying. I started to feel pain in my left shoulder that radiated down into my arm. I was hot and sweaty at the time but didn’t want to cause a scene because I was in a house with people I didn’t know.

Luckily my husband arrived and recognised the symptoms that maybe I was having some kind of heart problem. I begged him not to call the ambulance but he persisted and phoned and it was really lucky that he called when he did... because the ambulance team arrived and within three minutes of them assessing me, I went into cardiac arrest.

My heart stopped beating for over half an hour. The ambulance team performed CPR for 32 minutes, I had seven defibrillation shocks. The paramedics had to cut my clothes off and put the defibrillator on. I think they were expecting once they defibrillated me once, I would come back to life. And that didn’t happen. I turned blue and my eyes were bulging from all the compressions. I had several broken ribs and I didn’t look in a great way. So, my husband thought that he’d be telling his kids that mummy died today.

I was taken to St Vincent’s hospital and rushed into emergency where they placed three stents in my heart. I spent six weeks in hospital and also had an ICD fitted before I left.

The reason I had the heart attack and the cardiac arrest was because of SCAD, which is a really rare, genetic problem that I have. I had no idea that I suffered from this prior to my heart attack. My LAD which is the main artery in my heart, dissected, so it tore from top to bottom, leaving no healthy artery at all.

Liza on the beach with her two kids
I just presumed it wouldn’t happen to me and I always imagined that heart problems were for men over 60 who carried a little bit of weight. I would never of thought that someone as healthy and as active as I was could suffer such a heart attack.

Prior to my heart attack I was really active and fit. I’ve got two young children that I’m always running around with. I was working... a really busy active full-time mum and never in a million years thought that I would have a heart attack.

Each day I’m here is a blessing, it’s another day I get to spend with my kids, my family, and live my life. I definitely don’t stress out as much as I used to, I’m a much calmer person. I’m strong; I think I’ve handled this really well. I faced a massive challenge and I think I’ve gotten over it pretty well. I’m slowly getting my life back,” – Liza.

You can help families struggling with heart disease by supporting vital discoveries at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years