Scones For SCAD Saturday 27 Feb 2016

To celebrate February’s National Heart Month and Rare Disease Day (29 February), Beat SCAD has launched a fundraising event – Scones for SCAD! I will be hosting a coffee morning at my home on Saturday 27 Feb for friends and family, as will many fellow SCADs survivors!
Beat SCAD launched in 2015 and so far, the group involved in setting it up, along with other SCAD survivors have provided an enormous amount of support to people who have just suffered a SCAD and are bewildered and asking ‘why me’.  The SCAD support group is fantastic and the charity is working towards funding for more research into why SCAD happens and how it should be treated.
The first thing you do when this happens to you is search for answers, and believe me, I did, and found very little.  My GP had never heard of it, and the cardiologist I saw had seen only one other case in his career.
Until recently there was hardly anything known about the disease, but the team at Leicester are learning more all the time, with the help of some willing volunteers (like me) who are happy to be scanned, biopsied and measured!
There’s still a long way to go in raising awareness so that young women are not turned away from A&E because they are ‘too young’ to have a heart attack.  I was told it must be indigestion as I looked ‘too healthy’.
February is the first of hopefully many fundraising efforts – let’s beat SCAD!
This is a summary provided by Beat SCAD:
What is SCAD?

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) is a rare heart condition that can’t be predicted or prevented. It affects people with few or none of the normal risk factors for heart disease.

o SCAD can be fatal, cause heart failure, cardiac arrest, require heart bypass surgery, stents or medical management.

o SCAD occurs when a tear or a bruise develops in one of the coronary arteries resulting in a blockage that prevents normal blood flow. This can result in a heart attack.

o SCAD affects mainly women. Around 30% of SCADs occur during or soon after pregnancy.

Menopause, extreme stress and exercise and connective tissue disorders have also been associated with SCAD but as yet we don’t know exactly what causes SCAD.

What is Beat SCAD?

Beat SCAD was established by SCAD survivors whose mission is to:

o raise awareness of Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) among cardiologists, GPs, emergency staff, cardiac rehab staff and more, as well as SCAD patients, their family and friends

o provide support for SCAD patients, family and friends

o raise funds for research into SCAD


Fell Off The Wagon: Wet January

After 19 days of sobriety, I fell off the wagon yesterday and had two whole drinks!! A glass of wine, followed by a glass of port, and a jumbo bag of Skinny Popcorn, just to cap off the failure in style!



I don’t know what prompted this fall from grace.  Last week was stressful, but this week is less so.  Both Steve and I were in a good mood, thinking about our holidays, and searching the internet for a short break.  Some little demon whispered in my ear ‘why not?’ and I thought indeed ‘why not?’.  So that was that.  The deed was done.

The popcorn was a truly unnecessary addition, but I was in the mood to be naughty, so it seemed appropriate.

The outcome, after even just a couple of drinks, was to be woken up by palpitations.  A timely reminder that with a dicky ticker, I really should not drink.  But hey, I wanted to join in the fun!

Anyhow, back on the wagon now.  One swallow does not make a summer and all that.

How’s everyone else getting on?



Chia, Dates and Figs

We’re making a few changes here in Dodd Towers, going for a more plant based and adventurous way of eating. These are the new foods making it onto the shopping list


  1. Chia seeds.  I’ve read lots about chia seeds so am giving them a go on my porridge for starters, then I’ll move on to adding them to recipes in time.  The Latin name is Salvia hispanica, genus lamiaceae (same as mint) and it’s said to have been cultivated by the Aztecs.  The seeds are rich in omega 3 and are said to help lower blood pressure and to maintain a healthy cholesterol level.  You can buy them in Holland & Barrett.
  2. Dates.  Well these are not new, as I’ve always been partial to a date out of those long boxes with a camel on the front.  This time though, they are replacing sweet treats for when I get the munchies.  The Latin name is Phoenix dactylifera. They are nutrient dense and full of fibre.
  3. Figs.  I love fresh figs, but until Tenerife last month, had not really appreciated how nice dried figs are, especially when eaten with salty cheese.  I saw these in the supermarket and thought I’d give them a try.  Latin name Ficus carica, they are a good source of potassium and fibre.  Good for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

This is just the start! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Christine x



A New Year Message Of Hope For Fellow SCAD Survivors

DSCN0211It’s been almost five years since my SCAD and I wanted to let you guys know that things can, and do, significantly improve with the passage of time.  If you had your SCAD in 2015 then you may not believe me, as the first year is the hardest.  2011 for me was a nightmare of A&E visits, hospital appointments, anxiety and a feeling that life as I knew it was over.  Well, it was actually, but it turns out that it was no bad thing, as I’ve never been happier than I am right now.

The very best news in the last few months is that my wanderlust has returned.  I really thought my globetrotting days were over, but just recently we’ve been looking at holidays in Costa Rica, and maybe even Australia and New Zealand is no longer out of the question.  If you’d have told me this on my first post SCAD flight to Mallorca when I sat shaking in the departure lounge convinced that flying would stop my heart, then I would never have believed you.  Well, since then, we’ve travelled extensively, but mostly in Europe.

So, the big trip for 2016 is a girls only trip to New York (shopping yay!!) with my best friend Linda.  Following this, who knows where the new year will take me?

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2016.



Never Take Your Heart Health For Granted

OK – this is a whinge! Today my palpitations are driving me nuts! Frustratingly, yesterday I felt on top form.  In fact, in the last week I’ve been running again on the road and managed three 20 minute runs plus a Zumba class.  So why am I feeling like shit today?  SCAD is a funny thing and there seems no rhyme or reason to the ups and downs of my heart’s behaviour.  I look at people running and feel a sense of loss for what I could do in the past, but didn’t do often enough, and now of course, I just can’t do it.  I would urge anyone who is fit and healthy to exercise now while you still can – make the most of your health and don’t take it for granted because it can disappear in the blink of an eye.  Of course, I’m grateful to be as well as I am and not on the mortuary slab, but even so this really pisses me off!  I may just put my running shoes on in a bit and see how I get on – walking seems to regulate my heart beat and might improve my grumpy mood too!  Thanks for reading – rant over.


Premature Atrial Contractions (Palpitations): What I’ve learned

A year go, on my fledging blog, I wrote about palpitations and what I did to manage them.  I notice that in the SCAD user group (spontaneous coronary artery dissection) lots of people are asking about how to cope so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in the last twelve months.


  • My SCAD is now four years behind me, so every day that goes by, I feel safer.   I know that PACS come and go and I don’t pay them the same attention.  They are my new normal and to some extent, I’ve accepted this.
  • I’ve read a lot about palpitations and it seems that they are very common and according to my GP and specialist, nothing to worry about.  Lots of people without heart problems have them, it’s just that us SCADsters are hyper aware of anything to do with our heart.
  • Occasionally I do panic a bit.  When this happens, I aim to distract myself.  Sadly at bedtime, this is hard to do, as your thoughts are magnified and you can over focus on your heartbeat.  I have a pile of magazines by my bed to flick through – easier than trying to concentrate on my book.
  • I eat to keep my blood sugar stable, as dips seem to set them off – especially getting hungry and missing a meal.  This means avoiding simple carbs: white bread, cakes, pastries, alcohol, chocolate, pasta which cause a sharp rise in blood sugar followed by a crash.  I’m no saint and love all these things, but keep them for occasions, and not for every day.
  • I love chocolate, so have a strip of 85% cocoa Green & Blacks right after my evening meal so there is protein in my stomach too.
  • I aim to have protein, complex carbs and good fats at every meal.
  • Planning my menus each week avoids relying on a quick fix carb heavy meal.
  • I exercise to raise my heart beat – Zumba and regular walking for a few miles at a time.  I couldn’t maintain the running because it aggravated the PACS.
  • I practice Yoga to help with relaxation.
  • I have a set bedtime relaxation routine which includes reading for an hour before sleep.
  • I take comfort in knowing that palpitations are common at menopause, so now I’m almost 54, it can’t be forever!
  • Sally Bee is my role model – she’s a SCADster and looks fabulously healthy on ITV’s Lorraine.
  • Finally, I’m not letting it rule my life.  In the last year I’ve flown long haul, had food poisoning (was terrified that vomiting would kill me) and agreed to be chairman of a registered charity which will involve public speaking.

If you are getting palpitations for the first time, then of course check with your GP, but once you’ve been checked over and told you just have to get on with it, then maybe the above will help.

Clean Eating Progress Week Three: It’s All Going Wrong

End of week three and I’m in a bit of bother.  After the euphoria of the wedding and concert last weekend, my energy levels have been rock bottom and today I’ve woken up full of cold.  The slippery slope started on Wednesday when, feeling tired, I succumbed to a piece of toast with jam and butter in M&S Café and it’s been downhill all the way since, eating two gingerbread wedding favours (yes, two), chocolate and cake.

So, this morning, not only do I have a cold, but my heart is misbehaving too.  The last couple of weeks my heart has been pretty stable, so I’m guessing it’s the sugar hit that’s causing the trouble.  At least it bears out the theory that I need to ditch the sugar.

So enough feeling sorry for myself, what am I going to do to get back on track?  Well, I have some cod for dinner tonight which I’ll have with roasted veg, and I have the ingredients to make some more of this slaw that I had earlier in the week. Wish me luck! I’m gonna need it to get my head in the right space again!


The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back


Well it’s arrived! My damascene moment, the straw that broke the camel’s back, the wake up call I’ve been waiting for!  I’ve admitted to myself that I’m not going to lose weight and get fit by:

1. wishing it

2. asking the universe

3. reading about it

4. ignoring it

I actually have to do something about it!  Furthermore I need professional help so I’ve called in Helen Conway from Kick Start Fat Loss at Bodywork Pilates.

So what pre-empted this decision?  Well, it was a size 14 shift dress from M&S.  Lovely linen with a jewelled neckline.  I bought it with a view to wearing it to a hen party this weekend.  But shock horror! When I got it home, it zipped up alright, but I look tubbier than a tubby thing in it (even with my big knickers on)!

So, before we start, let me give you my excuses so far:

  • Can’t exercise too hard because of my heart
  • I don’t look too bad
  • I need to eat to keep my blood sugar stable otherwise I get palpitations

I know these don’t wash and that there are ways around this.  Yes, my running progress was aborted because of palpitations, but was that really the cause or just a convenient get out clause. Yes, I do need to keep my blood sugar stable, but eating clean will do just that.  And finally I can’t keep pretending that it’s OK to carry a bit of weight, because it absolutely isn’t and for my heart health, losing weight is the very best thing I can do!

So bring it on!

Two Steps Forward and Three Steps Back: Running Progress

I wrote a few weeks ago about my fledging attempts to get back on the road and my desire to run down the country lanes again.


Well, all was going nicely until this week.  I’d been running three times a week on the treadmill and thinking I could get outside at the end of this month.

My heart, however, has other plans!  This week it’s been a pain in the neck with PACS (premature atrial contractions) and funny sensations which leave me feeling very mortal.  So much so that I haven’t run now since last Monday and I’m now sitting here contemplating should I go to the gym today or am I dicing with death?

In reality, I know I’m unlikely to just drop dead, but the fear is still with me.  I suspect I’m in a bit of a hormonal storm this week which is the likely cause but I’m hugely frustrated!

OK rant over.  I think I just have to write off this week and start again next week with a reduced schedule then get back on track.  Maybe I can make it down the lanes for Easter instead.  I should be happy I’ve come this far!!