Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a scary name for a type of heart attack that affects women between the ages of 40 and 60. A team of scientists has concluded that genetic factors play a major role in this.
Genetic factors play a prominent role in explaining a form of heart attack that mainly affects women who are under sixty and in good health, as indicated by the results of a large study that may allow for better care for these patients.
“I didn’t suffer from cholesterol, but I was an athlete,” said Gaelle Martin, 59, who suffered a heart attack five years ago.
Women have long been considered relatively immune to cardiovascular disease.
In contrast to myocardial infarction, which mainly affects elderly men or those who are overweight, nine out of ten patients with SCAD that cause heart attacks are women between the ages of 40 and 60 who do not show any health problems.
Gaelle must receive lifelong medication to thin her blood and regulate her pressure.
Symptoms and indications
When she felt pains in her chest, the first indication of a heart attack, she initially said to herself, “I’m not going to call the emergency services right away.” However, the “SOS Medicine” service that sends doctors to patients’ homes provided help for her, and then an examination of her arteries in the hospital showed that she had a spontaneous coronary artery dissection.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Gaelle, who practices as a teacher in Rennes, says: “The patients are often the same, and they are active women who suffer from psychological pressure.”
A spontaneous coronary artery dissection occurs when the inner lining of an artery tears and separates from the outer lining. Blood enters through the tear and then spreads into the space between the two linings and leads to blood clotting that eventually narrows the artery and blocks blood flow.
A disease that has not been adequately studied
SCAD is still poorly understood and its diagnosis is inaccurate, which complicates the care provided to patients with it, at a time when it may represent a third of heart attack cases in women under 60 years of age.
Geneticist Nabila Bouattia-Naji’s team from the Center for Cardiovascular Research in Paris (INHSR and Paris City University) addressed this issue with a large study in which they delved into a meta-analysis of eight studies, which yielded new insights. on the genetic causes of this disease.
By comparing the genetic data of more than 1,900 patients and about 9,300 healthy people, the scientists showed that the genetic causes that determine the risk of SCAD are very numerous and spread across the entire genome of patients, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature Genetics.
The results of the study indicate that hematoma malabsorption is a genetic cause of heart attacks that was not known until today. “These results open up prospects for future drug treatments,” says Nabila Bouattia Naji.
Ways of prevention
A better understanding of genetic susceptibility will allow identifying patients who are most at risk of heart attacks, with the aim of improving prevention in women, particularly young women.
In the study, scientists proved a strong link between high blood pressure and the risk of spontaneous coronary artery dissection, stressing that high cholesterol, weight gain and type 2 diabetes had no effect on this risk.
Bouattia Naji points out that “spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a disease that has not been subjected to adequate studies, because it is an unusual disease and the majority of patients affected by it are women,” adding: “Our study shed light on its genetic and biological characteristics, which will help us provide better care for patients in the future.” .