Kansas City woman survives deadly heart condition most commonly affecting women
During heart health awareness month, a cardiologist shares what's known about SCAD, a condition that led one woman to suffer three cardiac events in three years. It's the leading cause of heart attacks in women under 50.
Despite being a healthy, active 45-year-old with no family history of heart disease, Nancy Holland went into cardiac arrest while out to dinner in 2017.
The idea of cardiac arrest didn't seem plausible to Holland.
"I never believed that a heart situation could have impact me," says Holland. "I thought I was too healthy for those kinds of things to happen."
Three years later, Holland suffered from two heart attacks within 36 hours.
Holland was diagnosed with a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) a heart condition that largely affects women.
SCAD is an injury to the coronary artery wall restricting blood flow which can lead to heart attack symptoms.
The condition is the leading cause of heart attacks in women under 50.
"Over 90% of our patients with coronary dissection are women," said Dr. Anna Grodzinsky, a cardiologist who specializes in SCAD at the Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center.
"There's felt, for that reason, to be also a hormonal influence. We know that this is a condition that is the leading cause of heart attack around pregnancy, and frequently around perimenopause," Grodzinsky said.
SCAD is still being studied. Five years ago, "less than 50% of cardiologists surveyed noted that they were very aware of this condition," Grodzinsky said.
Holland and Grodzinsky joined Up To Date to raise awareness of SCAD and share what are thought to be risk factors of the heart condition.
- Nancy Holland, SCAD survivor
- Dr. Anna Grodzinsky, cardiologist, Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center