Originally brought together virtually through social media, Chicago-area survivors of a severe form of heart attack that often strikes healthy young women are gathering in Naperville, Ill. on May 4 to raise awareness and research funds for spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).
SCAD Research Inc., a charity formed by the husband and sister of a former Naperville resident who died from SCAD in 2011, is holding the second annual 5K Walk/Fun Run and SCAD Survivor Reunion, which is attracting other SCAD survivors from around the United States.
Corsicana’s Tanya Linex, who survived a heart attack Dec. 17 and had open-heart, double-bypass surgery Dec. 18, will attend.
“I want to go and hear other women’s stories, how their lives have changed and what they are doing after what has happened to them,” Linex said.
Linex, who ran the Oiltown Minithon 1K over the weekend, said life is rather normal four and half months after surgery.
“It’s not something I think about everyday,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I am 100 percent healthy. I still have days where I feel the effects of the surgery, but I don’t feel unhealthy.”
Unlike other heart attacks, SCAD often occurs in healthy adults under age 50 who have no risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or arterial plaque. Deb McGarry of Naperville was only 38 when she suffered a SCAD while attending a funeral. Megan Scheiber of Munster, Ind. was 33 when she suffered two SCAD heart attacks just days apart.
Linex is 40.
Without warning, SCAD occurs when a split or separation suddenly develops between the layers of the wall of one of the arteries that provides blood flow to the heart. The space between the layers of the artery’s wall may fill with blood, which may reduce or block blood flow through the artery. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection may lead to a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest or other complications if not diagnosed and treated quickly.
“I know from personal experience that SCAD is very underdiagnosed and poorly understood,” says Bob Alico, founder of SCAD Research. “By raising awareness and helping fund research, we are determined to change that so we can save more lives.”
Initially contacted for help by SCAD survivors who had organized via social media, Mayo Clinic has since become a center for SCAD research. The lead researchers of the Mayo Clinic SCAD studies, cardiologists Sharonne Hayes, MD, and Marysia Tweet, MD, will join the SCAD walk and present an update on the research at a luncheon following the walk/fun run.
Mayo Clinic is conducting two new studies of SCAD, which are open to new participants. The first study broke new ground by using social media to recruit patients with SCAD from around the world who are entered into a database to hopefully identify patterns that could guide future research. The other research involves creating a biobank of blood samples from patients with SCAD and their close relatives, to potentially see whether genetic factors play a role in development of SCAD.
On the net: