Ask Dr. Nandi: Why heart attacks striking healthy, young women

Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 17:45:38-05

This type of heart attack is very different from the typical heart attack we’re all familiar with. It’s called SCAD and stands for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. 

It’s fairly uncommon, yet for women under the age of 50, it may be the reason behind 45 percent of their heart attacks. SCAD is caused by a tear inside an artery.  Blood becomes trapped, blocks the flow to the heart which leads to a heart attack.

Researchers aren’t sure of the cause, but studies point to a hormonal link. 30 percent of all SCAD patients recently had a child. Most of the patients are healthy women with normal blood pressure and no risk factors for heart disease. They’re younger, with 42 the average age.

So far to date, nothing has been found to prevent SCAD. But don’t let that be a reason to not take care of your health. Here are my prescriptions: 

Partha’s RX:
1. Reduce your risks for heart disease overall
Keep your high blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels.

2. Find ways to cope with stress
Listen to music, write down your thoughts or try meditation

3. Eat a healthy diet
Minimize processed foods and add more fruits, vegetables and healthy grains to your meals.

4. Move more
Include moderate physical activity like walking, for 30 minutes most days of the week.
If you’re diagnosed with SCAD, be sure to talk to your doctor first before taking part in exercise.

There’s no special warning signs with SCAD, so be sure to know the signs of a heart attack. Watch out for chest discomfort, pain in the arm, back, or even the jaw, cold sweats, light-headedness, fatigue and shortness of breath.