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KC woman brings awareness to spontaneous coronary artery dissection after personal diagnosis

SCAD heart disease
Posted at 5:40 AM, Feb 26, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Five years ago, Nichole Herring lost control of her future. During a "Friendsgiving" gathering, she experienced severe chest pain and was admitted into the emergency room and diagnosed with spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD.

According to the American Heart Association, SCAD is a condition where a tear forms in a wall of the heart artery, blocking or slowing blood flow to the heart.

"It's spontaneous, it can happen at any time and it can happen to anyone," Herring said. "I have made a journey to live life to the fullest. I lost about 130 pounds so far. I now join a gym and just do everything to be amazing and love myself and try to help others too."

The American Heart Association says SCAD is mostly seen among women in their 40s and 50s. Additional risks factors are seen among women of color; on average, one in 16 Hispanic women age 20 or older have coronary heart disease.

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Herring is Hispanic and Native American and had no idea she was at a greater risk of experiencing heart disease, but says her experience taught her a lesson on listening to her body.

"It's all about knowing your body and paying attention to things that change," Herring said. "I thought I just had heartburn and ignored it for hours."

As she works towards a new future, Herring is teaming up with the American Heart Association as a women's ambassador. She said she hopes her story will inspire others to pay attention to their heart’s health and take care of their bodies.