Nicole Reardon, a mother, wife and passionate special education teacher, was just 29 years old when she experienced a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, also known as a SCAD. SCAD is an emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in a blood vessel in the heart.

Although SCAD may seem similar to other conditions that cause heart attacks, it is a unique disorder that should be managed and monitored by specialists with expertise in the disease.

Nicole shares how SCAD led her to the Mass General Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program.

Can you tell us how you ended up in the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program?

Three weeks after the birth of my second baby girl, I found out about SCAD. I was experiencing chest discomfort, shortness of breath and arm numbness when I was rushed to a hospital and told I was having a heart attack.

Two days later, I was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital and met the wonderful Dr. Malissa Wood. It was then that I learned a lot about the Corrigan Women's Heart Health program, along with my new diagnosis.

How did you feel when you discovered that there was a program dedicated to the heart health of women, and what would you consider the most valuable aspect of the program?

I felt incredibly fortunate to have been offered this resource. I feel that the opportunity to meet other SCAD patients through this program and the support from the nurses and exercise physiologists at cardiac rehab are the most valuable parts of the program. Recovering physically is an obstacle after a harrowing heart event, and recovering emotionally can be just as scary.

The team I worked closely with during cardiac rehab not only helped me to become physically stronger, but also helped me to heal mentally and I cannot thank them enough!

What would you tell someone with the same condition about your experience with the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program?

I would urge any and all future patients to participate in this program as a way to not only improve their own lives, but to also help improve the care and treatment of others.

Learn more about the Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program.