Why Heart Attacks Are Striking Healthy Young Women

AnneMarie Hess, a 40-year-old mother with a newborn, was taking a shower when she felt an unusual pain in her chest. She stopped the shower and took a seat. The discomfort eased off.


Later, while driving her other children to a violin lesson, the chest discomfort returned: this time it didn’t subside.

A concerned next-door neighbor took her straight to the emergency department. There, the medical personnel worked quickly, taking EKGs and pumping her with IV fluids. The tests showed a cardiac arrest.

” It’s actually a blur, I simply remember being provided a little cup with maybe 30 baby aspirin,” says Hess of the heart attack which occurred in 2008. “I just kept saying to the nurse, I have to be okay, I have this 17-day-old infant.”

An angiogram discovered absolutely nothing; her arteries were clear. She began exercising more regularly as well as started weight-lifting.

However 6 years later, during a Fourth of July trip in Wisconsin, it occurred once again. Only this time it was a full heart arrest.

” I didn’t have pulse,” states Hess. “I had about 45 minutes of CPR and I was stunned about 10 times before they could get me back into a regular rhythm.”

After Hess’s 2nd heart attack, it became clear that this was not a postpartum complication – she was identified with spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD.

” SCAD is a kind of heart attack, but totally different than the one we usually believe of,” states cardiologist Dr. Sharonne Hayes of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. “It’s triggered by a split or tear in an otherwise healthy artery that causes a drop in blood flow to the heart resulting in a cardiac arrest.”

Researchers are discovering that SCAD cardiac arrest occur more regularly than once thought.

The most vulnerable are younger ladies who are otherwise healthy, with typical blood pressure and no danger elements for heart illness. The typical age of those impacted is 42-years-old, with approximately 10 to 20 percent being brand-new mothers or pregnant. The condition can also affect guys.

SCAD is frequently misdiagnosed, states Hayes. It is reasonably uncommon, however in females under 50, it may be the cause of up to 45 percent of cardiac arrest.

” We haven’t truly discovered anything particular that will prevent SCAD,” states Dr. Hayes.

Patients with SCAD are recommended to avoid pregnancy, in addition to competitive sports or heavy weightlifting.

Signs of a cardiac arrest

SCAD has no unique indication, so doctors encourage women to understand the indications of a cardiovascular disease:

– chest pain
– discomfort in the arm, back, or even the jaw
– cold sweats
– light-headedness
– fatigue
– shortness of breath

Hess now takes medications, including blood slimmers, to aim to prevent another attack. The mother of 5 has decided she will not have more children and avoids strenuous exercise. By raising awareness of SCAD, she hopes females with unclear symptoms won’t feel absurd about going to the ER.

“A lot of women are told they have anxiety and after that they later on learn find out that it was SCAD,” says Hess.