2. Risk Factors for SCAD

Doctors and researchers have found some apparent risk factors for spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), though it’s unclear exactly what role these factors play in causing the disease. These factors include:

  • Female sex.Though SCAD occurs in men, too, it tends to affect women much more often.
  • Giving birth.Some SCAD occurs in women who have recently given birth, especially in the first few weeks postpartum.
  • Underlying blood vessel conditions.Some abnormalities have been associated with SCAD, most commonly fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), which causes the irregular growth of cells in the walls of one or more of your arteries. This irregular growth can weaken the artery walls, leading to blockages, dissections or aneurysms, and can also cause high blood pressure, strokes and tears in other blood vessels. FMD occurs more often in women than it does in men.  Lupus and polyarteritis nodosa, which cause inflammation of the blood vessels, have also been associated with SCAD.
  • Inherited connective tissue diseases.Genetic diseases that cause problems with the body's connective tissues, such as vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome, have been found in people with SCAD.
  • Extreme physical exercise.People who recently participated in extreme or intense exercises may be at higher risk for SCAD.
  • Severe emotional stress.Someone who has experienced significant emotional stress, such as a sudden death in the family, relationship conflicts or work stress may be at higher risk for SCAD.
  • Very high blood pressure.Having untreated, severe high blood pressure can be associated with SCAD.
  • Illegal drug use.Using cocaine or other illegal drugs may increase the risk of SCAD.

Test Your Knowledge