“Do you want me to start running less?” she asked. “Like maybe 5 miles?”
“No running at all,” he ordered.
OK, she thought. We’ll take a couple of months off and get this fixed.
Only when she thought about telling her parents did the severity of “heart failure” sink in.
The doctor prescribed beta-blockers and medication to lower her blood pressure to ease the strain on her heart, though she had no history of high blood pressure.
When she asked what caused heart failure, he said, “We’re not sure, but African Americans tend to have high blood pressure.”
She thought it sounded like “a worn narrative.”
A second opinion at a different hospital brought no new insights. Then she saw another cardiologist, Dr. Keyur B. Shah.
“Because she was so young and led a healthy lifestyle, we really looked for everything,” Shah says. “It’s not unusual that she was pigeonholed earlier. That definitely happens, especially to African American patients. If they have a weak heart and there’s no blockage, high blood pressure is blamed.”
He ordered a series of tests along with a cardiac MRI. It revealed scars on Scott’s heart inconsistent with coronary disease.
Shah and his team, which included cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Jordana Kron, traced the problem to cardiac sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease where clusters of inflamed tissue affect parts of the body. In the heart, it can cause arrhythmia and a weakened heart.