A different type of heart attack

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is an underrecognized but important cause of heart attack, especially in younger women.

Published: January, 2021

Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot blocks an artery feeding the heart. But a small percentage result from a tear in the inner wall of one of the heart's arteries. The resulting flap or swelling inside the artery wall obstructs normal blood flow. Known as a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD, the condition strikes both sexes but is more common in women.

In women who are under 50, SCAD is the most common reason for acute coronary syndrome. This medical emergency refers to inadequate blood flow to the heart; it includes both heart attacks and unstable angina (sudden chest pain that occurs at rest).

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