Health | Did You Know

40% Of Heart Attacks In Younger Women Are Caused By A Condition No One Knows About

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If you're under the age of 50, in good health, and have no history of heart disease, you could suffer a heart attack because of a rare condition most women have never even heard of.

SCAD is the most common cause of heart attacks in women under 50.Livestrong

Doctors are trying to raise awareness about Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (or SCAD for short). As heart health expert Dr. Alfred Casale points out about the condition,  "The number one cause of heart attacks in women under 50 has nothing to do with cholesterol levels, weight, or fitness habits."

Unlike a regular heart attack, which is caused by a buildup of plaque in your arteries, SCAD is caused by a sudden tear in your artery, trapping blood and causing a clot.

The inner wall of the artery collapses, creating a blood clot.Medivizor

That's what is so worrying about SCAD: it can strike at any moment, even in patients with no risk factors or history of heart disease. While men can also suffer a SCAD attack, 80% of the patients who have the condition are women.

While the average age of a woman who has a heart attack is 72, the average age for a SCAD heart attack is a shockingly low 42 years old. Part of the reason SCAD targets younger women is because hormonal changes associated with pregnancy increase your risk of a SCAD attack.

Thinning of the birth canal can affect arteries in your heart, causing SCAD.NY Daily News

For their own safety, doctors say women should learn the symptoms of a SCAD attack and how to protect yourself if you experience one...

While SCAD can strike perfectly healthy young women, there are some risk factors to be on the lookout for.

High blood pressure can increase your risk of SCAD.HuffPost

Patients with high blood pressure are more likely to experience SCAD, along with women who have abnormal blood vessels because of conditions like fibromuscular dysplasia. Finally, women in the third trimester of pregnancy or just after delivery have an increased risk of a SCAD attack.

While SCAD strikes suddenly, like a regular heart attack, there are early symptoms that can warn you to visit the Emergency Room. Prolonged and sudden chest pain or discomfort, and pain in your jaw, shoulder or arm are all red flags.

You should study the symptoms of heart attacks in women, because they're actually different from men's symptoms. Also: be aware that extreme fatigue, nausea and dizziness, sweating and trouble breathing could signal a SCAD attack.

The quicker you respond to these symptoms the better, because you often have about 90 minutes before the attack causes serious damage.

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