Breanna Alosi was only 33 years old when she felt a sharp pinch in her back that would change her life forever. Breanna’s world was turned upside down when she survived a rare cardiac event known as a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), an uncommon emergency condition that occurs when a tear or hematoma forms in one of the blood vessels in the heart. Fortunately, Breanna knew the signs of a heart attack from her involvement with the sorority Alpha Phi, which volunteers with the American Heart Association, from her time in college and as the current president of its alumni association in Reno. Breanna went to the emergency room after the pinch spread to a radiating pain and she began to sweat and have trouble breathing. She remembers being in shock hearing “code cardiac” over the loud speakers and realizing it was in reference to her. The scariest part was worrying about her two young children and how they would never know her if she didn’t survive.
At the hospital, she underwent an emergency angioplasty and received two stents to widen her obstructed left anterior descending artery. After surgery, Breanna was still experiencing chest pains. Doctors eventually determined that the stents Breanna previously received had caused the artery to balloon inhibiting her blood and oxygen flow. Breanna underwent a second emergency angioplasty to deploy three more stents in the same artery. She spent five days in the hospital recovering. Her doctors referred her to the Mayo Clinic for further testing and it was confirmed that she had experienced a very rare SCAD cardiac event. SCAD often affects women who are otherwise healthy, with few or no risk factors for heart disease. While at the Mayo Clinic, Breanna also discovered she has fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), a condition that causes the narrowing and enlargement of the medium arteries in the body and is also found in more than half of SCAD patients. Additionally, she was diagnosed with a renal artery aneurysm caused by her FMD. This is a bulging, weakened area in the artery to the kidney which usually isn’t treated until it reaches a certain size. Today, thanks to the fearless Elizabeth Fleischmann’s pioneering work in x-ray technology and electrical science in the late 1800s and early 1900s, more advanced imaging procedures like computerized tomography (CT) scans are available so Breanna can monitor her renal artery aneurysm to see if it reaches a dangerous point where she will need vascular surgery.
Breanna underwent cardiac rehabilitation which helped her heart failure and to regain her confidence and trust her body again. Over the past six months, she has also connected with other SCAD survivors in the Northern Nevada area and they have started an informal support group and blossoming friendship. Breanna looks forward to celebrating her birthday on March 1st at the 2019 Northern Nevada Go Red for Women event. Her advice to women is to listen to your body and if something doesn’t feel right call 9-1-1. She wants everyone to be aware, know the signs of a heart attack and get help when they appear.
1896 - Elizabeth Fleischmann began studying x-ray technology. She completed a six-month electrical science course and then opened her own X-ray lab in San Francisco.