SCAD may result in:
- Angina (chest pain)
- Myocardial Infarction (heart attack)
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest
- Dissection flap: where a split or separation develops between the layers of artery wall and a loose flap of tissue causes a blockage and impedes normal blood flow
- Intramural haematoma: where the artery wall is damaged and a collection of blood leaks into the tissue causing a swelling which blocks blood flow
One or both types may be present. One or more coronary arteries may be affected.
Treatment of SCAD
Following diagnosis of SCAD during the coronary angiography, treatment may be:
- Conservative i.e. medically managed with no surgical intervention
- Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) i.e. stent placement
- Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG – “cabbage”)
Most SCAD patients will be started on a number of medications, typically:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- A beta blocker e.g. Bisoprolol
- An ACE inhibitor e.g. Ramipril
- A long acting oral nitrate e.g. Isosorbide mononitrate
- A statin e.g. Atorvastatin
- A calcium channel blocker e.g. Diltiazem
Effects of SCAD
As SCAD can result in different types of coronary event, the resulting effects vary from patient to patient and depend on how quickly the event is diagnosed and treated.
One of the biggest problems facing SCAD patients is event identification and there are two sides to this:
- The individual, or those around them, may not recognise or suspect their symptoms to be cardiac and this can result in a delay seeking medical attention.
- The medical professional(s) assessing the patient also may not suspect a cardiac event when the individual appears to be “too young” or “too healthy” with no traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or SCAD may be missed on the coronary angiography resulting in misdiagnosis.
Some patients do fully recover and are able to return to the activities they performed before their SCAD; others recover well with some adjustments to their life; but others are more severely affected and SCAD is life changing in many ways.
Recuperating after SCAD
SCAD patients progress through recovery at their own rate and may have differing needs.
Attending cardiac rehabilitation sessions is highly recommended, if possible. It is very common for a SCAD patient to lose confidence in their body, especially if they were feeling fit and healthy before their event – which most are. Cardiac rehab helps to restore confidence whilst exercising in a safe environment and the rehab team will address any concerns.
Connecting with other SCAD patients can be a great source of information, support and encouragement. In addition to the growing number of SCAD patients joining this portal, there are a number of on-line communities where SCAD patients from around the world share their experiences (for further details, see the Links section).
NOTE: Whilst sharing information, thoughts and opinions with other SCAD patients is a valuable experience, always remember that your body reacts in its own way and try to focus on your healing and progress.
This page is compiled by SCAD survivors based on their own experience. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice from a clinical professional, and if you are in any doubt about any aspect of your condition or treatment, you are recommended to consult your own doctor appropriately.