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What a cardiac nurse learned from having a type of heart attack that strikes younger women

DENVER –- Unhealthy lifestyles producing cholesterol buildup is the typical culprit to most heart attacks. However, other heart attacks are totally unavoidable.

More doctors are starting to realize a danger associated primarily with younger women, according to staff at Denver's Rose Medical Center. The damaging heart condition is called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).

SCAD shreds the inner lining of an artery, blocking blood flow.

More: These are the symptoms of SCAD

Jennifer Gaydosh, a nurse in Rose Medical Center’s cardiac unit, suffered a SCAD heart attack about 10 months ago.

“I started having burning pain down my left arm,” Gaydosh told FOX31.

She admits she messed up at first, doing what too many of her own patients have done.

“I talked myself out of it,” the 48-year-old said. “I thought I couldn’t possibly be having a heart attack.”

Gaydosh’s SCAD condition caused one of her main arteries to dissect and cut off blood flow. The cause of SCAD is a mystery.

“The artery became fragile and got a tear in the wall,” Dr. Michael Wahl said.

Once realizing what he was dealing with, Dr. Wahl decided against a stint. Using echocardiograms and angiograms, Dr. Wahl saw Gaydosh’s overall healthy heart was working to help compensate where Gaydosh’s artery fell short. Medication is now boosting that success.

Ten months later, Gaydosh says she is feeling great. She regularly sees a cardiologist now. She also takes time to tell her story.

The lesson: listen to your body and don’t wait.

SCAD happens more to women than men. Symptoms are less apparent for women. Rose Medical Center has treated three patients with SCAD in the past two weeks, according to Gaydosh.

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