WHEN Yvonne Campbell had a heart attack aged just 33 and was told she had an incredibly rare condition, she thought nobody would understand what she was going through.
But while flicking through the pages of the Evening News, the Dalkeith mum saw a story that stopped her in her tracks.
Bernadette Hamilton, who lives just 25 minutes down the road in Haddington, was speaking about her own experience with spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), which affects just a handful of people in Britain.
The pair made contact through the comments section of the News website and have become close pals. After helping each other through the aftermath of their attacks, which they have been warned could strike again at any time, they completed a walk at the weekend to raise awareness and cash for the condition.
Yvonne, now 34, said: “To find Bern was fantastic, it’s an amazing coincidence. No-one understands what it’s like to be told at that age that you’re going to have permanent heart damage, that they don’t know why and that it could happen again. It was great to swap stories.”
Yvonne was initially told she was having a panic attack after she woke one morning last July experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, which she recognised immediately.
“It came as a bolt from the blue,” she said. “My dad has heart disease so I’d done a lot of reading up and knew what was happening. The first responder came and said I was far too young to be having a heart attack and the ambulance driver said the same. It wasn’t until they did the ECG that they realised.”
After being diagnosed with SCAD and spending three days in a high dependency ward, Yvonne made a good recovery. She and Bernadette have made contact with a US research programme looking into the little-known condition. The walk they took part in yesterday, in Leicestershire, coincided with a larger event in Chicago.
Bernadette, who had her heart attack in 2011, aged 34, has since raised more than £4000 for the British Heart Foundation. She said: “It’s been nice for both of us to be in touch. After constantly thinking you’re unusual and unique it’s nice to be able to share your experiences and frustrations.”
Fighting back against SCAD
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection strikes mainly in women under 50.
It occurs as a result of a sudden tear in the inside of a coronary artery that blocks the flow of blood to the heart.
Little is known about the condition and a consensus has yet to be reached about how it should best be treated or what causes it.
Yvonne and Bernadette have joined a Minnesota study attracting patients from around the world. It aims to build a genetic database and analyse medical records to better understand the condition.