What is SCAD?
Spontaneous (coronary or carotid) artery dissection (SCAD) (x) is a very rare emergency condition caused by a tear in your coronary or carotid artery wall. It reduces or stops blood flow to your heart, which results in severe chest pain or a heart attack. It also associated with several other conditions, including pregnancy and systemic inflammatory health concerns. But it is most commonly associated with fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), a condition characterized by abnormal cellular growth in the arteries. (x) (x)
SCAD most commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s, and what makes this condition even more sudden is the fact that it mainly occurs in people who are generally healthy. Most people affected do not show any risk factors or warning signs of this heart disease. (x) (x).
For example, there are low quantities of cardiac enzymes in the blood normally, but the body produces more of them during a heart attack. If a patient has elevated cardiac enzymes but has not had a heart attack, it could be a warning sign for SCAD. (x) (x)
It’s important to diagnose and treat SCAD as soon as possible because it could cause a heart attack if your blood flow becomes blocked completely. (x)
Causes of SCAD
Arterial tears cause SCAD. Three walls make up the artery, and when one of them becomes disrupted, it allows blood to pass through. When your blood pools in the space between the artery walls, it adds pressure and allows the tear to grow even more significantly. The blood remains trapped and solidifies to form a hematoma or a blood clot, and the artery narrows and becomes blocked, either partially or entirely. (x) Partial blockage causes chest pain and weakens your heart muscles, and complete blockage can cause a myocardial infarction — or a heart attack — if blood cannot get through to your heart muscles. (x)
However, a heart attack from SCAD is utterly different from a heart attack from atherosclerosis, another more common cause of heart attacks. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which your arteries narrow from plaque buildup. (x) SCAD occurs without signs of plaque buildup or any other risk factors for heart attack, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. It basically happens without any warning. (x)
Risk Factors for SCAD
Doctors do not know what causes arterial tears precisely, but they have identified several risk factors, which helps to narrow it down for you and your family: (x)
SCAD typically impacts women. One study analyzed a sample size of 224 cases, in which 71.9 percent were women and only 28.1 percent were men, making gender one of the primary risk factors for SCAD. (x)
Women who are pregnant or postpartum are also at risk. Researchers hypothesize that the hormonal and hemodynamic, blood flow, changes in pregnancy may contribute to SCAD. (x) (x)
- Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD)
In fibromuscular dysplasia, the cells in the artery walls grow abnormally, and the artery walls either grow or narrow. SCAD is commonly a manifestation of FMD. Usually, FMD affects the carotid arteries that connect the brain to the heart, but sometimes it affects the coronary arteries. (x) (x)
Underlying Conditions of SCAD
Autopsy reports have identified inflammation in SCAD cases and link the condition to systemic inflammatory diseases, such as lupus, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. (x) (x)
Although it is rare, another study associated SCAD with connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome. (x)
Other risk factors include cocaine use and emotional or physical stress. One study stated that cocaine might cause SCAD. It increases blood pressure and causes constriction in the blood vessels, putting pressure on the artery walls resulting in arterial tears. (x) Another study stated that intense emotional or extreme physical stress and exercise could trigger SCAD. (x)
Symptoms of SCAD
Being aware of SCAD symptoms may help save a life. Since the health concern is so rare, it usually goes undiagnosed or unnoticed by you. Some signs to look out for include:
- Heart Attack
In most cases, the first symptom you may experience is a heart attack because detailed studies usually show a completely blocked artery. The torn artery wall traps the blood between the three layers of the artery. A bulge forms, creating a blockage. But even if partially blocked, your heart is still not getting sufficient blood flow, and you have symptoms identical to a heart attack. (x)
- Chest Pain
One of the major signs of a heart attack is excruciating chest pain. It is usually in the center of the chest and radiates to the shoulder, back, neck, arms or jaw. It is like angina, chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, but much more severe. Chest pain in a heart attack is sudden and lasts longer than a few minutes. (x) (x)
- Increased Heart Rate
When your body is at rest, it pumps the least amount of blood that it needs. If your heart rate is unusually high at rest, it means your heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently as it should. As a result, your heart beats faster and needs more oxygen and can cause a heart attack if it doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Tachycardia is a condition in which you have a high heart rate at rest. When it increases at rest, it means the heart experiences effort to pump more blood because your arteries have become blocked.
(x) (x)Other symptoms include shortness of breath — which may or may not happen with chest pain or discomfort — profuse sweating, chills, nausea and vomiting. (x) (x)
To test for SCAD, a doctor will perform cardiac catheterization to test any problems with the heart and coronary arteries. It’s a non-surgical procedure where they will insert a tube into your groin and thread it into the arteries to take an X-ray. (x)
Treatment depends on the severity of the case, whether it causes chest pain or results in a heart attack. The patient may benefit from medications, such as blood thinners or beta-blockers, or they may need more advanced procedures. (x) (x) Some advance procedures include:
- Stent Placement
This treatment uses a small metal coil or tube to hold the narrow or blocked artery open. The medical doctor positions a stent in the coronary or carotid arteries in the heart or the neck, as well as the peripheral arteries in the arms and legs. (x)
- Bypass Surgery
Bypass surgery is one of the most common heart procedures. In bypass surgery, the surgeon removes a vein in the chest, arms or leg to bypass the blocked coronary artery, allowing blood to flow to the heart. (x) (x)
Typically, recovery time for a stent placement is a few days to a week and at least six weeks after hospital discharge for bypass surgery. (x) (x) Even after treatment, there is a chance of recurrence, especially in patients with FMD. But a second dissection can occur months or years after the first. There is no way to determine if you will have a recurrence and no way to prevent it. (x)
Supplements for Heart Health
Although there is no way to foretell or ward off SCAD, supplements can help promote heart health. Talk with your physician before starting any new supplement, making sure your body will not have any adverse side effects.
- Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) Powder
COQ10 is an antioxidant, meaning it destroys free radicals that cause damage to the body. It produces energy and maintains immune system health. Research has linked heart failure with COQ10 deficiency. (x) The recommended dosage is 50 to 200 mg, depending on specific health conditions.
- Omega 3-6-9 Softgels
Fats are an essential component of the cell membrane. Omega-3-6-9 fatty acids improve heart health and reduce blood pressure. (x) (x) Take three soft gels once or twice per day.
- Taurine Powder
Known best for having antioxidant properties, taurine improves metabolism and regulates blood pressure and cholesterol. (x) Take 500 mg twice a day as a dietary supplement.
- Hesperidin Powder
In combination with other compounds, hesperidin helps support circulation and treats hemorrhoids. (x) Hesperidin is in citrus fruits. Take 500 mg once or twice per day with food and water.
- Hawthorn Berry Extract Powder
For thousands of years, ancient and modern healers used this herb to treat diseases relating to the heart and blood vessels. Hawthorn berry helps maintain blood pressure, cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. (x) The recommended dosage is 1,200 mg once or twice daily.
- Nattokinase Powder
Extracted from food called natto, which has origins in Japan, nattokinase is a protein-digesting enzyme. It can help prevent heart disease and angina and manage high blood pressure. The recommended serving size is 100 mg once, twice or three times per day. (x)
- Tart Cherry Extract Powder
Apart from strengthening the immune system, the tart cherry extract effectively manages several other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, dementia and insomnia. It also reduces blood pressure. Studies show the supplement contains key enzymes to help with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (x) For the full benefits of tart cherry extract, take 2,500 mg once a day.
- Artichoke Extract Powder
The research concludes that artichoke extract may help to regulate cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Artichokes are rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals. (x) The recommended serving size is 700 mg daily.
Where to Buy Supplements for SCAD or Cardiovascular Health?
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Are you interested in trying any of these supplements mentioned in this article as a possible solution to helping you with cardiovascular health or SCAD? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
The Bottom Line
Spontaneous coronary or carotid artery dissection (SCAD) is a rare but severe condition that results from a tear in the artery wall. From there, blood gets trapped between the three layers of the artery wall. A bulge forms and reduces or completely stops the blood flow to the heart.
Most patients who suffer from SCAD are generally healthy women in their 40s or 50s who do not show any risk factors for heart disease. Though having shortness of breath is one of the symptoms that could draw your attention or your doctor’s attention to the possibility of having SCAD.
It’s best diagnosed with cardiac catheterization, which tests your coronary health and arteries.
Researchers have not identified an exact cause for SCAD, but there are several risk factors, including pregnancy hormones, systemic inflammatory conditions, connective tissue disorders and fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD).
Treatment options for SCAD include medications, bypass surgery and stent placement. Although there is no way to prevent the condition technically, supplements can help promote overall heart health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.