Teri Hontz of Whitehall had just hit the dance floor at a wedding in 2015 when she was overcome by excruciating jaw pain. She quickly sat down, but continued feeling lightheaded and clammy. Her husband wanted to call 911, but she insisted it would pass.
"I knew these were heart attack symptoms, but I didn't believe I was a candidate for it," Hontz says.
"I was only 47 and super healthy. I exercised regularly and didn't have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes."
Painful symptoms persist
During the following weeks, Hontz continued experiencing jaw pain, burning in her chest and breathlessness with minimal exertion. Her primary care doctor finally convinced her to visit the ER at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)-Muhlenberg. Fellowship-trained cardiologist Nidhi Mehta, MD, with Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute and the Women's Heart Program, immediately ordered tests.
"We thought she might have coronary artery disease caused by plaque buildup in her heart arteries that was blocking blood flow," Mehta says. "But a cardiac catheterization didn't show any blockage."
After more tests, Mehta concluded Hontz had suffered a heart attack caused by a condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).