June 20, 2020 was a typical COVID-19 pandemic day for Regina’s Tanya Jakubowski. She spent the day at the lake, enjoying the company of family. However, everything changed that night.
“I was sitting around the fire with a few family members, when I felt a sudden pain in my chest and upper back,” Tanya recalls. “I thought it might be heartburn, but this pain was unlike any heartburn I’d ever experienced.”
That’s because the sensation was caused by a heart attack, brought on by a rare condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Essentially, SCAD involves a sudden tear within one or more arteries to the heart, leading to a heart attack. Not much is known about SCAD, other than it predominantly affects otherwise healthy women aged 50 or younger, and pregnant or post partem women.
Tanya’s husband Mark drove her to the emergency room at Regina’s Pasqua Hospital. After a series of tests, it was determined that Tanya was experiencing a cardiac event, and she was quickly transferred to our Mosaic Heart Centre at Regina’s General Hospital (RGH).
“Once we got to RGH, they prepped me for an angiogram, and also tested me for COVID-19 because I had been out of province earlier in the week,” Tanya explains. “I was at a celebration of life for my aunt, and the doctors think the stress from that may have triggered the arterial tear and the heart attack.”
Tanya was taken to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab (Cath lab) at the heart centre, where Dr. Payam Dehghani performed the angiogram, which confirmed the SCAD diagnosis. An angioplasty procedure followed, which involved inserting a balloon into Tanya’s artery to keep it open and ensure the blood flow followed the correct path. Following that, Tanya was wheeled back to the Cardiac Care Unit to begin the recovery process under the care of our highly-skilled and compassionate staff.
“I can’t say enough good things about the staff at the Mosaic Heart Centre,” Tanya says. “From my cardiologists to the amazing nursing team, everyone was just wonderful and so caring. I’m also grateful to the Hospitals of Regina Foundation supporters, who ensure the cardiac teams have the best possible equipment and technology with which to perform their life-saving work.”
Today, Tanya deals with some side effects from the various medications prescribed to manage her condition. However, she is otherwise back to leading a normal life, including going on several challenging hikes with her husband.
“Each year, one out every five visits to Regina’s emergency rooms is cardiac-related,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Thanks to ongoing support from the community, the Foundation is able to invest in priority technology and equipment for the Mosaic Heart Centre, helping medical teams deliver the best possible cardiac care for residents of southern Saskatchewan. In turn, that care is helping people live better lives.”