Heart and Vascular Care / Heart and Vascular Programs and Services / Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) Program

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) Program

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is an uncommon arterial disorder that occurs when a tear forms in the coronary artery wall. This can slow or block blood flow to the heart and trigger a heart attack.

The Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center offers compassionate, comprehensive care for SCAD. Our team of specialists work together to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and personalized care plan, so you can get back to your life.

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD): Why Choose Vanderbilt

  • Unique expertise: Our specialists have the expertise and experience to treat complex arterial disorders. Esther Kim, MD, MPH, a nationally known SCAD expert, is the study chair for the International SCAD Registry (iSCAD) and the Scientific Advisory Board for SCAD Alliance. Vanderbilt is also a participating research center for the U.S. Registry for Fibromuscular Dysplasia.
  • A team of experts: Our comprehensive care team brings leading specialists across medical disciplines together to care for you. We work with interventional cardiologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons and migraine experts to determine the best treatment option for your unique needs.
  • Leaders in research: Vanderbilt is a national leader in SCAD research. Our team leads and participates in several local and national collaborative research studies, so we can better understand what causes SCAD and how to prevent it. This means you’ll have access to the latest approaches to care before they are widely available.
  • Imaging designed for SCAD: We created a SCAD-specific imaging process to improve the accuracy of your diagnosis. Our team also offers full vascular ultrasound imaging.
  • Convenient follow-up care: Our specialists work with your primary cardiologist for your follow-up care.

Conditions We Treat

  • SCAD. This uncommon arterial condition occurs when tissue lining the walls of a coronary artery separates. When the inside layers pull away from outer ones, blood can pool between layers. That causes the artery wall to bulge inward, blocking or partly blocking blood flow that supplies oxygen to the heart muscle. Typically, the result is a heart attack.
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD). A disease that causes cells in your blood vessels to grow abnormally. This can create bulges, tears or narrow spots in your arteries.
  • Cervical artery dissection. This condition occurs when there is a tear in the wall of a carotid or vertebral artery in your neck. 
  • Arterial aneurysm. An arterial aneurysm is a bulging, weak area in the wall of an artery. It can occur anywhere in your body. 

Diagnostic Tests We Offer

Treatments We Offer

Treatment depends on your individual needs. Your care at Vanderbilt may include one or more of the following treatment options:

Patient Stories

Jessica Biggs was scared to go to sleep at night. At 32, she had her first heart attack, then a second, third and fourth within a few months. The Smith County schoolteacher couldn’t find answers about the underlying cause until she came to Vanderbilt. See her story.


Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute
Medical Center East
1215 21st Ave S., 5th Floor
Nashville, TN 37232
(615) 322-2318
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Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) Care Team

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