ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A Bethlehem attorney is spearheading an effort to understand and treat a dangerous heart condition that almost took her life.
It's a condition that usually strikes young women who are otherwise healthy.
Despite being a wife, mother of two and working for a local law firm, this woman is taking it upon herself to not only raise awareness and money for research but to make sure that money goes exactly into the type of research she thinks is most valuable. The reason? For the women who haven't been as lucky as she has.
Women like Meagan Duarte. No one ever expected Meagan would have a heart attack. The 29 year old Northampton woman had just had a newborn son and had a toddler at home. But last July, Meagan's family lost her.
"It's like I grieve for her children, to not have their mother to rock them to bed, just to do those types of things, the mommy things," says Meagan's mother Susan Edelman, of Macungie. Her grief is constant.
"When you have three children, there's just that hole that's just missing you know? She says.
Susan remembers those awful days and the strange diagnosis: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection or "SCAD". For unknown reasons, a tear develops on the inside of the coronary artery in otherwise healthy people who are usually young and many times post partum women. The tear can lead to a blood clot and then a heart attack. Researchers are the Mayo Clinic are looking for answers and now say SCAD is the leading cause of heart attacks in women under 50. Bethlehem Attorney Jill Kelly McComsey had a scad event at just 36. At first she dismissed the pain in her chest.
"But the other symptoms, like the pressure in my chest I knew enough to think that might be a heart attack but I didn't want to believe that was possible," recalls Jill.
Jill is making sure research continues by working on a fundraiser for SCAD for the second year called SCADaddle. It will be held on Saturday June 10 at the Bethlehem Township Community Center Path.
"For so long I couldn't say I had a heart attack because it didn't feel real and it didn't feel like that's who I was. and I met other survivors through on line suport and the fortuity of my event was that they had just had the first walk to support the research that they're doing at the Mayo Clinic ."
And Jill wants to raise awareness about what SCAD is because it's a diagnosis that can be overlooked because no one expects a young healthy woman is having a heart attack. Susan urges women to take action if something doesn't feel right. "Go get help, go have it looked at. If it turns out to be nothing, go on your way but if it is something maybe you can have a better outcome and be a survivor."
Jill says she's so passionate about this cause in order to give her experience some value and hopefully save someone else. "I can't control what happened to me and I can control how I help other people figure out the what the why and the how and the what if's we all have," says Jill.
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For more information about the Mayo Clinic SCAD research click here.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley Bo Koltnow / 69 News