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Meet Patti: Surviving SCAD 

Patti LeBlanc, of Winnipeg, didn’t think lifting a crockpot would send her into an ambulance. But on December 22, 2015, that’s just what happened.  

LeBlanc, 49, was loading her car for a church potluck when she was hit with alarming sensations. She felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest, her chin was sore, and she had pain in her jaw. Suddenly, her left arm started tingling.  

“I started thinking the worst. I didn’t know the signs of a heart attack,” said LeBlanc. “At my age, why would I?” 

A runner training for an ultra marathon, LeBlanc didn’t fit the typical heart attack profile. Still, knowing something was wrong, she told her husband to call 911.  

The ambulance arrived within minutes. Paramedics immediately did an ECG to see the rhythms of her heart and confirm if she was in danger. Both the ECG and the on-call cardiologist at St. Boniface Hospital confirmed she was having a heart attack, and she was rushed to St. B’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab.  

Reflecting on her experience, LeBlanc remembers how quickly and seamlessly everything happened. Her care team was ready, scrubbed in, and waiting for her the moment she arrived by ambulance.  

LeBlanc was diagnosed with spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), which had caused two tears that led to her heart attack. SCAD survivors, mostly women, are at special risk for future cardiac events and complications, which means recovery is unique and complex. LeBlanc saw this unique care first-hand during her recovery at St. Boniface Hospital. “The care was so tailored to me as an individual. I felt like I had autonomy and the ability to do things for myself.”  

“I was told as a SCAD survivor to take everything slowly, and to breathe,” said LeBlanc. She knows how close she came to death.  

Today, she cherishes every moment. And she thanks her care team for making sure she would be here to enjoy them. “Because they saved my life, I was able to celebrate my granddaughter’s first birthday. I was able to get back to running and doing what I love.”   

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