Patient Leader

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) survivor and advocate. Co-founder of SCAD Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization focused on improving care and outcomes of SCAD, to ultimately empower survivors and their health partners. A SCAD is a tear or split in the artery that causes acute coronary syndrome, heart attack or sudden death. There are no known controllable risk factors to prevent SCAD. Signs and symptoms of SCAD are those of a heart attack, and should be treated as an emergency.


Best in Show: Community or Forum Health Activist Hero


Best Kept Secret

Katherine is a fierce advocate for the extremely serious and rare medical condition SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection). As a long term (since 2003) SCAD Survivor herself, Katherine blogs, tweets and disseminates information, personal experiences and support to others affected by SCAD. She played an important role in getting vital research underway which has given hope of some answers, and she is an invaluable member of the SCAD community who has brought SCAD Survivors from around the world together. Katherine works tremendously hard to raise awareness of SCAD and when I experienced SCAD myself in 2012, Katherine’s work and commitment inspired me to follow in her footsteps and do what I can. Katherine deserves recognition by being named our Health Activist Hero.  — Rebecca

Katherine Kelly Leon has been an inspiring activist in the spontaneous coronary artery dissection ("SCAD") community. As a fellow SCAD survivor, Katherine is my hero. She approached Dr. Hayes at the Mayo Clinic about doing research on this condition that was once thought be rare, and is now believed to actually be a common cause of heart attacks in young women. She has dedicated herself to spreading the word to health care providers, survivors and others by blogging on facebook and Inspire. She has educated herself about how to best make a difference and she has the initiative and go-getter attitude to get things done. With her help, SCAD Research, Inc., recently revamped its website to a more professional looking website. She has helped raise funds. She recently has dedicated herself to a new non-profit, SCAD Alliance, to focus specifically on patient advocacy. If we could bottle Katherine's enthusiasm, the world would be a better place. She is my hero.  — Jill

Katherine has been at the forefront of persuading the Mayo Clinic to research a rare condition affecting young, otherwise healthy people. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection strikes without warning and the cause is not known. Victims have heart attacks, despite having few or no risk factors, and some have to have coronary bypass surgery and their lives are changed for ever. Katherine works hard to raise the profile of this condition, working with the Mayo, SCAD Research and supporting others who have the condition. Using social networks to bring survivors together, she has increased the level of knowledge about this condition, enabled survivors to talk to someone who 'has been there', and provided a sizable body of patients to enable research to take place. Katherine is a tireless advocate for SCAD and deserves to be recognised for her amazing work.  — Debbie


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