Jennifer Butler-38

Personal Stories: Jennifer Butler

My name is Jennifer and I am 38 years old. One week after the birth of my 2nd son, I developed chestpain and was rushed to the ER via ambulance. After spending the entire night and next day in the ER, they performed a heart catherization and discovered that I had had a heart attack but fortunately, there was minimal damage to my heart. No stents were required at that time. I was ready to be released when I again experienced chest pain and was sent back to the cath lab where they discovered I had experienced a major heart attack and they inserted 3 stents in my LAD (left anterior Descending) artery. I was kept in the hospital for a total of 11 days with my young sons (4 yrs old & 1 week old) at home. I was sent home on blood thinners, blood pressure meds and cholesterol lowering drugs.

This was Sept ’07. In Dec ’07, they discovered at cardiac rehab that my EKG was abnormal. I required another heart cath where a 4th stent was put in. From Jan ’09 til June ’09 I was feeling great! I had lost 30 lbs. on Weight Watcher’s and was feeling really strong and good. Then I started developing chest pain while walking on my treadmill. A 4th heart cauterization discovered that I had several blockages and triple-bypass surgery was needed. In June ’08 I underwent the surgery. One day after my surgery, which went quite well, they did a routine scan of my heart and the technician discovered I had a tear in my aorta. I remember thinking this can’t be good. I was kept in the hospital for 2 weeks total. I later found out from my husband that I was only given a 50/50 chance of making it 48 hours. Then I was only given a small chance of making it 2 weeks post surgery. But, its been over 7 1/2 months since my surgery and I’m still here and doing good.

I have had genetic testing and it was ruled that I do NOT have Ehler’s Danlos or Marfan’s. They also checked for TGFBR1 and TGFBR2 which came back normal. The geneticist want me to have a chromosome analysis next. As of now they “remain unable to offer a unifying genetic diagnosis” for me.

My cardiologist believes I have suffered from SCAD (spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) which can happen to women in the weeks following birth. Its a condition where the high levels of Estrogen during pregnancy can weaken the heart and cause the vessels to tear.

Living with this condition has been difficult for me. I had thought that after this much time, I would be getting over my daily thoughts & fears of dying. I have seen a therapist and have taken Xanax off and on for anxiety. I’m trying to learn how to live with this condition and not let it consume me. I have two young boys & a loving husband to live for. I don’t want to leave my boys without a mother at such a young age. I try not to get on the internet because all the news about aortic dissections is so grim.

I have CT scans every 3 months right now to check my aorta. I have another one this week and I always get so anxious until I hear that everything is ok. The best news I can hope for is that nothing has changed. So far, since my surgery last June, the tear has not gotten worse. So that is good.

I just pray that I make it long enough to see my boys grow and mature. I also pray that they come up with some kind of surgery that will cure me. Some way to stitch up the tear? I’m not ready to leave this earth. I want to hold my grandbabies and grow old with my husband.

I need support! I would love to talk with other survivors and learn from others how to cope with this scary, life-threatening condition.

Thanks so much for reading my long story.

Jennifer B.


MLK Day!


Mark Schlieper-58


  1. sara irfan

    hi i have also suffered from acute aortic dissection in jan 2010 i also pray i could see my sons growing up and also my grandchildren put your faith in God and he will help us stay in touch sara

  2. Trudy

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have just read your story which is very similar to mine. I feel a little bit better knowing that there are other people feeling the same way as me.

    I am 30 years old and I have a 7 month old girl.
    At the moment I spend every day worrying that I am not going to see her grow up. If I talk to people about this I get the standard reply of ‘don’t be silly’ but after reading all the info on the internet I can’t help but worry.

    I had an Aortic dissection 3 days after my daughter was born. They have put this down to Marfans syndrome and are currently controlling it with many tablets.

    Every day she gets bigger and bigger and I worry that I am doing too much by carrying her around etc. I have thought about getting some sort of counselling. Did you find that it helped you talking to someone?

    She is my first child and there are so many things that I want to do with her when she grows up.

    I had an MRI scan on Friday and I have to wait a week for the results. They have said that if it has gotten any worse then they will operate. It has been a long week so far!

    If you ever fancy a chat it would be great to talk to someone who is going through the same thing.

  3. brend

    Hi i just turned 37 and its been 6 months since my dissection,I have 2 years till my daughter grad- but i wont to be a grandmother one day! its just not fair . I to would love to have some one to talk to about this. i dont have a face book but my daughter does we could talk that way if you would like to let me no. thanks

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