Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

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Interventional cardiology teams provide care in multiple locations. To learn more about our services, call 310-825-9011.

What is Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)?

  • Not all heart attacks are caused by the classic risk factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and family history of heart disease.
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a rare disease in which a tear forms in the wall of one of the blood vessels of the heart, blocking blood flow to the heart muscle leading to chest pain, heart attack, dangerous heart rhythms, and even death.
  • SCAD only accounts for about 1% of heart attacks in all women, but occurs more often in those who are younger and without cardiac risk factors. It is about 10 times more common in women than men.

What are the Risk Factors for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection?

White heart on red background
  • SCAD is associated with:
    • Pregnancy, especially the months just before and after giving birth
    • Connective tissue diseases such as fibromuscular dysplasia, Marfan syndrome, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
    • Hormonal therapy, including hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives
    • Extreme emotional stress or physical activity
  • It can also be idiopathic, meaning it can occur without any known cause

What is the treatment for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection?

  • Treatment for SCAD varies for each individual, but can include:
    • Close monitoring in the hospital
    • Oral medications, including blood thinners, cholesterol medications, and medications to reduce stress on the heart
    • An angioplasty procedure to try to open up the coronary artery with placement of a stent
    • Open-heart bypass surgery

Even with successful treatment, SCAD can recur, so patients should continue to be followed by experts like those at UCLA Health.

Feel free to contact our faculty at UCLA with any questions or concerns.