Not So Benign Chest Pain in the Young: A Story of Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection and Fibromuscular Dysplasia

Kingsley Dah, Rohan Desai, Divyank Patel, Amar Patel, Jan Lopes, Jorge Chiquie Borges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a rare clinical entity, often presenting similar to atherosclerotic acute coronary syndrome (ACS), although it is a non-atherosclerotic, non-traumatic, and non-iatrogenic coronary artery pathology. We report the case of a 36-year-old woman who presented with substernal, pressure-like chest pain without aggravating, alleviating, or associated symptoms. Initial evaluation revealed elevated troponin levels which peaked at 8.71 ng/mL. Electrocardiogram showed borderline J point elevation in the lateral leads. A transthoracic echocardiography revealed mild left ventricular dysfunction with an estimated ejection fraction of 45% to 50%, an akinetic apex with hyperdynamic basal segments, suggestive of stress cardiomyopathy. However, a left anterior descending artery (LAD) infarction could not be excluded. Emergent coronary angiography revealed SCAD of the LAD. No coronary interventions were performed. The patient was managed medically with dual antiplatelet therapy and beta-blockers. Given the high suspicion for fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), computed tomographic angiography (CTA) of the head to pelvis was performed. The CTA neck showed bilateral focal areas of mild stenosis and dilation of the distal cervical internal carotid artery, and CTA abdomen revealed multiple splenic artery aneurysms, diagnostic of FMD. Unlike atherosclerotic ACS, our patient was managed medically without percutaneous intervention. This case illustrates the rare occurrence of myocardial injury due to SCAD which results in spontaneous intramural hematoma formation rather than atherosclerotic plaque rupture typically seen in ACS. FMD remains the most commonly associated condition with SCAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • atherosclerotic acute coronary syndrome
  • chest pain
  • fibromuscular dysplasia
  • spontaneous coronary artery dissection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Epidemiology
  • Safety Research


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