Rare Rheumatology News

Disease Profile

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable



Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a condition in which blood accumulates between the layers of tissue that make up the wall of the coronary artery (the vessel that supplies blood to the heart). The trapped blood then creates a blockage which interferes with blood flow to the heart. Depending on the degree of blockage, symptoms can range from chest pain to heart attack or cardiac arrest. [1][2] For some, the first symptom is a heart attack. If the blockage is partial, symptoms may include shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and fatigue (tiredness). [1][3] Though SCAD can occur at any age, most cases occur in otherwise healthy people between the ages of 30 and 50. It is more common in women. [1][4] SCAD is an urgent situation and requires immediate attention. [4][2] Though the exact cause of SCAD is not fully understood, risk factors include pregnancy, recently giving birth, very high blood pressure, and extreme exercise. [1][4][2] Certain conditions such as connective tissue disorders or fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) may also increase a person’s risk of developing SCAD. [1][2] Treatment depends on the signs and severity of the disease but may include allowing the dissection to heal on its own, medications to reduce the risk of clots, or percutaneous coronary intervention. Some cases require surgery. [1][5][2] People who have survived SCAD may be at risk for another dissection. [4] 


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

    • SCAD Research answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) on their website.

      In-Depth Information

      • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Cleveland Clinic. December, 2015; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/fibromuscular-dysplasia/spontaneous-coronary-artery-dissection. Accessed 2/25/2016.
        2. SCAD Research. What is SCAD? Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.scadresearch.org/about/. Accessed 2/25/2016.
        3. SCAD Alliance. SCAD Symptoms. https://scadalliance.org/symptoms/. Accessed 2/25/2016.
        4. SCAD Alliance. SCAD Definition. https://scadalliance.org/definition-of-scad/. Accessed 2/25/2016.
        5. Douglas, Pamela and Saw, Jacqueline. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection. UpToDate. January, 2016; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/spontaneous-coronary-artery-dissection. Accessed 2/25/2016.