Doctors often are unable to identify a cause of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). The condition usually occurs in people who don't have risk factors for buildup of plaques in the arteries (atherosclerosis). SCAD is different from a secondary dissection, which is a dissection that is caused by another specific cause, such as the extension or spread of a dissection in the major blood vessel leading from the heart (aorta) to the coronary artery, or blood vessel injuries caused by coronary artery procedures, heart surgery or chest trauma.
Doctors have found that most people who develop SCAD have no obvious risk factors. However, doctors have found that several conditions may increase the risk of SCAD, including blood vessel abnormalities, inherited connective tissue disorders (Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type IV and others), inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis), contraction of the muscles in the walls of your artery (coronary artery vasospasm) and others.
People who develop spontaneous coronary artery dissection generally range in age from 30 to 50, and women are at higher risk of SCAD than are men. About 70 percent of SCAD cases occur in women age 50 and younger.
Pregnancy also may be associated with SCAD. About 30 percent of SCAD cases affecting women occur during late pregnancy or shortly after birth. SCAD may result from blood vessel changes, sex hormone changes, blood volume changes, and other changes in women during and after pregnancy.