Time to take a road trip to Kansas City to learn about SCAD!



While most people head to Kansas City, MO for barbecue my trip took on a different mission. I loaded up the car with my daughter Brenna as my co-pilot and set the GPS for St. Luke's Hospital. Our mission: To learn as much about SCAD, Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.

My daughter happened to be studying hearts in science and wanted to go along to see what caused my heart attack. I was a little hesitant at first because she's only 12. What if she hears words such as morbidity or mortality? Will it freak her out? Will she have more questions than when we set out? In the end, it ended up being a fantastic experience for both of us.  Not many 12-year-olds get to hear a public forum on SCAD conducted by two amazing Cardiologists.

The SCAD talk conducted by Dr. Jason Lindsey and Dr. Tracey Stevens at Muriel I. Kauffman Women's Heart Center in Kansas City, MO. The 90-minute discussion flew by! I ended up with pages and pages of notes and still wanted to hear more. At one point I looked over at Brenna, and she was taking notes. I was in shock. Here a 12 year old was taking notes on a subject where there's no test!   Although there are more questions than answers known about SCAD, it's so intriguing to see what might be the cause. 



While I was at the talk, the American Heart Association put out a scientific statement on SCAD. This inspiring news and the massive step in the right direction. Many times when I tell people my story and tell them my heart attack cause was SCAD and not plaque they are confused. My goal is to educate everyone and let them know that it can happen to anyone.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the SCAD town hall: (These are from my notes taken from Dr. Lindsey and Dr. Stevens town hall

1. SCAD accounts for less than 0.5% of heart attacks, but it accounts for 25% of heart attacks for people under 50 years old.

2. 9:1 ratio women to men. Still not understood as to why

3. The person is healthy without risk factors

4. There can be a hormonal relationship, most common cause of pregnancy heart attacks.  Non-Pregnancy related SCAD is much more common. 

5. Genetic link??

5. Medical management, no approved drugs for SCAD. 

6. SCAD Symptoms: 45% Chest Pain, 24% Palpitations, 21% Shortness of Breath

7. Ask to have your doctor rule out Fibromuscular Dysplasia ( seen in around 60% of patients)

8. 57% postmenopausal,  rare in 65y/o and higher, 10% malignant arrhythmias, 5% Connective Tissue disorder, 12% Systemic Inflammatory disease


10. Prognosis: Recurrent SCAD around 10%

11. 10-year mortality 1.1%

12.  Most dissections will heal in 1 month. Not placing a stent is a better treatment plan.  Avoid hormone replacement, Usual medicines Asprin and Beta Blockers. Cardiac rehab has been shown to decrease rates of recurrent SCAD.

Future Direction: Genetic Predisposition? Determine how to prevent the 1st event and recurrent events.  Ask for a CT coronary angiogram for follow up if needed and not a PCI.

THE NEED to have a prospective registry.

If you are a SCAD Survivor,  join the SCAD ALLIANCE at #SCADheart


As Brenna and I drove home we discussed what we had learned. I was shocked at how she retained the information from the night before. We both agreed that more research needs to be done, still too many unanswered questions. 

In the end, it's up to us to get out there and not only educate ourselves but others! I'm just one SCAD survivor trying to make a difference!