Metro mom grateful to survive scare with SCAD

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This February, in honor of Heart Health Month, FOX 4 is working for you to educate you about a multitude of heart issues. This one affects mainly women, many who have no traditional heart problem risk factors. It's called SCAD- or Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, and one metro mom is fortunate enough to be alive to share her experience.

May 3, 2014: Kara Burns had a health scare that could have ended her life.

“I had chest pain that radiated straight from the center of my chest straight through to my back,” said Burns.

Kara thought she was having a panic attack, or maybe even a heart attack. When she arrived at the hospital- tests showed she instead had SCAD or Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.

“They were lucky enough to be able to get the stint in so I could avoid surgery,” said Burns. “I started doing some research on my own, and that`s when I saw statistics I didn`t like, but then figured out I had kind of beaten the odds in some of this.”

Kara sought out Dr. Stevens at the Mid America Heart Institute for her expertise on the condition.

“SCAD is a unique, uncommon, but certainly not rare condition that presents often as a young woman with a heart attack,” said Dr. Tracy Stevens, a Cardiologist for St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

“It`s a spontaneous tear in the lining of one or more coronary arteries,” said Dr. Stevens.

Dr. Stevens says Kara fit a common profile for people who experience SCAD. She's a young woman, with no risk factors for heart disease, who just gave birth.

Often times extreme stress or physical exertion can be a contributing factor for SCAD. But what's a mystery is what actually causes SCAD, and what can prevent it.

“At this point we don`t know what can be done to prevent this,” said Dr. Stevens.

Those with Marfan Syndrome or Fibro Muscular Dysplasia are believed to be at higher risk as well.

Dr. Stevens says knowing your body, however, and being aware of SCAD is about all someone can do to recognize there's a problem.

SCAD can affect people of any gender and any age. It's also important to know as soon as possible if its SCAD or a heart attack because statins can be a harmful treatment for those who experienced SCAD.

There is currently research going on to find out more about SCAD, and if anything can be done to prevent or predict it. As with any heart condition- leading a heart-healthy lifestyle can't hurt.