WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA)-- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have been prompted to begin the first major study of a condition called "SCAD," after a group of SCAD survivors from an online community reached out to the clinic for help.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection, is a deadly heart disease. With this condition, an artery close to the heart tears. When this happens it blocks blood flow in and around the heart causing a heart attack. It typically strikes young, healthy women.
Sharonne Hayes, MD of the Mayo Clinic tells CBS News,"About 70% of the cases or greater are women and of these women, 30% are in the few weeks to months after giving birth."
It is highly underdiagnosed since the condition is very abnormal. There is no known cause or treatment for SCAD. Up to 20% of patients who had the condition will have it again.
Rachel Willen is a SCAD survivor who took part in the Mayo Clinic study.
Willen tells CBS News, "These are my motto's for living now: live on the edge and take a whisk," she says. While Willen strives to eat healthy and continually exercise but she can only hope that SCAD does not strike again.
While the Mayo Clinic is actively working to identify how SCAD works, Dr. Hayes says, "Hormones are a high area of interest and likely contribute to the cause of SCAD but we don't understand the mechanism."
There is research delving into whether genetics plays a role in causing SCAD and already a connection between SCAD and fibromuscular dysplasia, another rare condition, has been found.