A cause that shows heart

Beth has her walking shoes on and is ready to take on Coastrek for a second year in a row. (Supplied)

Hannah Hammoud

Sunshine resident Beth Scholes had just given birth to a healthy baby boy when two weeks post-partum, she suffered a heart attack caused by spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).

Despite being fit and healthy with no traditional risk factors, the shock of the event was profound.

While the exact cause of most SCAD events is often unknown, doctors believe Beth’s SCAD may have been related to her pregnancy.

The added emotional and physical stress on her body due to an infection and post-birth complications are also thought to be contributing factors.

The aftermath of the SCAD event brought on ongoing anxiety for Beth, particularly regarding exercise. Now in her 40s, she sought proper help for her mental health in the past year.

“For so long it had been restricting my life,” Beth said.

“Overcoming my anxiety was the biggest challenge for me following my SCAD, and I know many others have experienced the same, so it’s really important to seek out support for this so you can get back on track with doing things you love.

“I also sought the help of an amazing physio who provided guidance around safe exercise.”

In 2023, Beth took on the Coastrek challenge as part of her journey towards reclaiming her health and confidence. After a 12-week training program, she completed the 20 kilometre walk, finding solace in the camaraderie and scenery along the way.

“The regular training to build up to 20 kilometres was great for my physical and mental health. I trained with a teammate and good friend, we walked 10 kilometres most weekends, often along the river. Taking time out for myself and walking and talking with a friend was so good for my mental health,” Beth said.

“Having the 20 kilometre Coastrek goal gave me the incentive to commit to training. I felt I had more energy and felt stronger and fitter through the regular walks.”

Now, Beth is preparing for her second Coastrek, stepping up to the 30 kilometre event on the Mornington Peninsula this May.

“I feel a little nervous taking on the extra 10 kilometres, but I also feel that I am well prepared,” Beth said.

“When I completed Coastrek last year I felt so proud that I did that and it gave me confidence to continue exercising.

“The best thing about Coastrek is that there are many options to participate – from 20 kilometres to 60 kilometres. The benefits are huge, and for me I would recommend it to anyone. Taking that time out of your day to train whether it be for 20 or 60 kilometres is so important for your physical and mental health. It gives you that challenge to have a goal and it just gets you moving and gets you active.”

Because SCAD mostly affects women with few traditional risk factors, the Heart Foundation highlights awareness of and quick response to the warning signs of a heart attack as important advice for all women.

Fundraising from Coastrek events will support the Heart Foundation’s research into conditions like SCAD and other female specific risk factors relating to heart disease.

Coastrek Mornington Peninsula will be held on Friday, May 24. Registrations close April 14.

Details: www.coastrek.com.au