PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A heart attack is usually caused by coronary artery disease. However, a less common cause can also be to blame including a condition that nearly cost a local school teacher her life.

That school teacher is also a yoga instructor who Eyewitness News first told you about a few months ago.

Now that she is deep into her recovery, Healthbeat reporter Mark Hiller sat down with her to talk about her ordeal and what she wants everyone to know.

“I had heartburn before but never this severe,” said Kayla Wolthoff, who survived a heart attack caused by SCAD.

That so-called heartburn Wolthoff first began experiencing last May was actually a serious warning sign.

“It would start in my back and then it would go to my chest and down my arm,” Wolthoff said.

The Scranton School District special education teacher and yoga instructor at the Salt Barre in Pittston seemed an unlikely person to suffer a heart attack.

But it happened on August 22 when she was rushed to a hospital. The heart attack was caused by an emergency condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection or SCAD. She suffered a tear in the wall of a coronary artery which supplied blood to her heart.

“They put the stents in but then at that point I was going into heart failure. Very unstable. So they kind of had to make a decision,” explained Wolthoff.

“She got her vessels open but now we were seeing the downstream effect of the heart failing quite rapidly,” stated Osama Mukarram, MD, Geisinger Associate in Cardiology.

Wolthoff was flown from Wilkes-Barre to Geisinger Danville where she was placed on an ECMO machine. It does the work of the heart and lungs and allows patients a last best chance to recover. Just three days later.

“She was actually awake, interactive, and we actually noticed her heart function was actually improving,” explained Matt Bauer, ECMO Specialist, Geisinger.

Wolthoff says her life-threatening ordeal has taught her a lesson, one which this teacher wants to share with everyone.

“Putting yourself first, learning to advocate for yourself and especially in these instances when you have health, any kind of symptoms, advocating for yourself, pushing for answers so people take you seriously,” Wolthoff explained.

Wolthoff will finish her finishing cardiac rehab in January. It’s also the month she has an appointment with a scad specialist at the mayo clinic.

It will help her learn more about her capabilities and even determine if it is safe for her to have children.

Wolthoff hopes to be back to teaching her yoga classes in the spring.