Archives for posts with tag: scad

I speak for those who can’t speak tonight. I speak for those who’ve been brushed under the rug by slight-of-hand. I speak for the dead.

We’d all like to believe that if we control our risk factors, listen to our bodies, and call for help when in need there would be no heart disease. No heart attack. No stroke. No death.

Yet we all know the truth, which is women do the right thing every day and die anyway.

Whether from congenital defect, unmanageable risk factors, or un-researched biological boogeyman, women die from heart disease every minute of every hour of every day because we haven’t devoted the attention, research dollars, or sweat equity to keep them alive.

Don’t insult my intelligence by telling me that awareness of heart disease will keep me alive. I literally could teach a course on Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) to med students today and die of a second heart attack from SCAD tomorrow because the data hasn’t been funded to explain my disease or prevent my death from it.

Talk to me about answers. Show me cradle-to-grave assessment, risk management, and care. Act upon my crisis.

Women die every minute of every day because death from heart disease isn’t yet lucrative or sexy enough for our health care and research establishments to act.

I’m fighting hard until I Go Dead for Women.


Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a rare and poorly understood cause of acute coronary syndrome, heart attack, and sudden cardiac death. A spontaneous tear inside one of the layers of a coronary artery creates a flap, or subsequent clot, that blocks blood flow to the heart muscle.

Cardiologists typically have never seen a SCAD, but may remember the term from medical school. Twice online, I’ve communicated with women who’ve been discharged from the hospital after a heart attack with no clear diagnosis. After they’ve returned to their cardiologist and suggested the possibility of SCAD, a review of their angiogram does indeed confirm a dissection. I firmly believe the SCAD diagnosis is missed on a regular basis. SCAD just is not “on the radar” of cardiologists in our ERs.

SCAD was first documented in 1931. The following key points summarize what we know about SCAD today:

  • The vast majority of cases occur in people with no known risk factors or underlying conditions.
  • SCAD is more than twice as common in women than in men.
  • SCAD causes heart attacks and can result in life threatening arrhythmias and sudden death.
  • Pregnancy is a risk factor for SCAD; 30 percent of SCAD cases in women occur near the time of delivery.
  • Seventy percent of SCAD cases occur in people under age 50.
  • The average age when SCAD occurs is 42, but it has been documented in a 19-year-old.
  • SCAD is an emergency and requires urgent treatment.
  • SCAD can recur; up to 10 percent of patients experience two or more events.

With true research underway at Mayo Clinic, now the challenge is finding more SCAD survivors to participate in the virtual registry and DNA biobank. As you encounter stories of unexplained heart attack, please remember spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Your awareness may lead to answers for someone else.