February is American Heart Month and Beauty Releaf is proud to honor Danielle Costello Denlein, SCAD heart attack survivor with a special edition LIP-TASKER “Danielle’s Red” to help further research.
SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) is a little known and poorly understood type of heart attack caused when a sudden tear occurs within the layers of one or more coronary arteries. This tear partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart and causes a heart attack. According to the MAYO Clinic, SCAD is the #1 cause of heart attacks among women under the age of 50 as well as the #1 cause of heart attacks in pregnant women and new mothers. Most individuals with SCAD are YOUNG, HEALTHY, ACTIVE women who have NO FAMILY HISTORY OF HEART DISEASE. The average age is only 42. Although less common SCAD can affect MEN too. For more information visit www.mayo.edu/research/SCAD
February marks the 56th annual American Heart Awareness Month and Beauty Releaf is honoring and celebrating heart attack survivor Danielle Costello Denlein. Danielle is a survivor of SCAD. Since suffering from her heart attack at just 35 and living ever since in heart failure, Danielle has made it her life’s mission to educate about Heart disease the number one killer of women each year, share her story, and personal journey of living with the effects from her heart attack. Her dedication has helped numerous women over the years, by raising funds for research and genetic testing for SCAD, speaking engagements to educate on heart attack prevention, hosting special events, and educating children in schools on heart health and the symptoms to look for of a heart attack in their parents.
We honor and celebrate Danielle a beautiful mother, wife, daughter, and friend with a special edition LIP-TASKER “Danielle’s Red”. Danielle is an inspiring and strong woman and the perfect example of one person who can make a difference but believes together we can change the world.
We will be offering Danielle’s Red the entire month of February and 10% of each purchase will go to www.scadresearch.org to help further research to help save lives.
It wasn’t long after I had given birth to our second child when a very happy time quickly turned into a nightmare. I was resting at home five days after a C-section when excruciating pain took over my chest and radiated down my left arm. Despite being in great health, there was no mistaking that I was having a heart attack. Despite being terrified, I clearly remember hoping the ambulance wouldn’t wake up my children when arriving at my home.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that I had tears in two different arteries connected to my heart. These tears, medically called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissections (SCADs), we're serious, and the one in my left anterior descending artery (LAD) had given way to a blood clot that was blocking 95% of the blood flow to my heart. I should have been immediately prepped for open-heart surgery, but I wasn’t stable enough for the procedure, as I had just had a C-section less than a week earlier. I’ll never forget pleading with the doctor to save my life. “I have a newborn at home,” I had said to him. And while I’ll never forget the look of fear on his face, he did what I asked him to. Since he couldn’t operate on my heart, he put four stents and a balloon pump in my LAD and hoped the second SCAD would heal on its own.
A week passed and I found myself back in the ER. Since I still hadn’t healed from the C-section and was now on a blood thinner, I was bleeding vaginally, and doctors were unable to stop it. So they gave me a shot of vitamin K, but that almost killed me. My body started burning; my blood pressure dropped and I heard someone announce “code red” over the intercom. I felt like I was dying. I remember a lovely nurse held my hand and told me that the doctors were going to put me to sleep, but that I would be ok. While I was out, I received seven bags of blood, was put on life support, and had my uterus immobilized to stop the bleeding. God was on my side, and I, once again, pulled through and was discharged. But life as a heart attack survivor and a new mom was hell. I was fighting for my life, but I wanted to be a mother to my newborn. I missed out on bonding time. I wasn’t able to nurse her, hold her, etc. And when I was home, I was depressed, which killed my desire to be with my daughter. I was afraid and in pain. I had lost 40% of my heart, was over-medicated, and slept most of the time. I was also afraid to be home alone. Ultimately, I had to go back to the hospital yet a third time. I was still having chest pain—pain that was caused by scarring in one of the other arteries where stents had been placed. This, I found out, put me at higher risk for another heart attack/SCAD. Unfortunately, given the state of my heart, open-heart surgery was not an option. That meant more stenting and an implanted defibrillator—right before Christmas. When I was finally able to return home, we arrived to a glorious Christmas tree that our neighbors had purchased and decorated for my return. It was magical and just what I needed.
Six months after my SCAD, I returned to work. My doctors didn’t want me to, but I wasn’t ready to retire at age 35. I wanted my life back—to be normal again. And I tried like hell to make it work. But despite my mental drive and ambition, I had nothing to give. I had no energy, no strength. My heart couldn’t keep up with my mind. I was overdoing it and taking years off my life in the process. When I saw my doctor, tests showed that my heart function had worsened, and I knew it was time to resign. I still miss working, but I know God has other plans for me.
On Oct. 20, 2020, I celebrated twelve years of life after my heart attack. I also celebrated 19 years of marriage. It’s still hard to believe I had a SCAD heart attack on my wedding anniversary. Today, I feel good, but I am living with heart failure and at risk for another heart attack/SCAD. That doesn’t, however, keep me from living life to the fullest.
My daughter, Lily is full of personality, spunky, sweet, kind, and a thinker. She tells me she doesn’t want to have a SCAD when she gets older. I wish with all of my heart that I can tell her that it will never happen, but the truth is that we don’t know if SCAD is genetic. Approximately 85% of SCAD patients are women, and due to the nature of the disease, diagnosis, and treatment for patients was not available until recent advances in angiography. We need more research. SCAD and women’s heart disease is poorly misunderstood. For more information on SCAD which is the #1 killer in women please visit https://www.scadresearch.org.
I am Danielle. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a survivor.
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