Uniquely different from a typical heart attack resulting from buildup of plaque along the arterial walls, SCAD is a form of heart attack in which the inner lining detaches from the artery wall and inhibits blood from flowing freely to the heart. Patients experiencing SCAD are usually healthy and do not possess risk factors such as being overweight, having diabetes, or smoking cigarettes.
A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic of Minnesota discovered the alarming trend that SCAD causes 40 percent of heart attacks in females under 50 years old. The research also concluded that greater than 90 percent of all patients diagnosed with SCAD are female.
Because of its obscurity, SCAD is commonly misdiagnosed and often leads to unwarranted medical procedures causing more arterial damage. Quantitative testing for SCAD also differs from diagnosing traditional heart attacks. Although blood work and an electrocardiogram will help diagnose a typical heart attack, SCAD can only be identified with the use of an angiogram, which tracks the blood flow within the artery.