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Epicardial coronary artery dissection

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

  • Cardiovascular Clinician Scientist Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 31 May, 2019
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Robert Graham

Project summary

Better understanding, treating and preventing spontaneous coronary artery dissection by identifying factors that predispose the coronary artery to spontaneous tearing.

What is the issue for NSW?

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a tear in an artery that supplies blood to the heart. It is a potentially fatal problem that presents as a heart attack or sudden death, affecting relatively young (45-52 years old) women (95% of cases) with few heart disease risk factors, and is, therefore, often overlooked. The underlying defect causing SCAD is entirely unknown, however, our work and that of others suggests that it is most likely due to a gene change that enhances susceptibility to vessel rupture.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Our purpose is to better understand, treat and prevent SCAD by identifying factors that predispose the coronary artery to spontaneous tearing. Our objectives are to investigate the genetics and cell biology, as well as blood pressure and heart function responses, of our familial SCAD survivors versus controls.

The proposed research brings together multi-disciplinary, internationally-competitive researchers to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying SCAD, with the objective of identifying targets for the development of effective preventative and treatment strategies, irrespective of ethnicity.

This research will thus be equally effective, impactful and applicable to the health needs of priority populations, such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, individuals from CALD backgrounds and socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

Scientifically, the work will change how the field views SCAD, and will pave the way for others, thus rapidly increasing progress. Technologically, the work is underpinned by powerful, contemporary methodological approaches that will allow deep interrogation of genomics and cardiac biology, as well as the elucidation of innovative approaches to SCAD risk identification and management.

The latter has translational and therapeutic significance and has the potential to lead to simple, evidence-based implementable therapies, irrespective of ethnicity. The findings of the study will be disseminated in leading international journals, at major national and international meetings, and through our patient groups, media and social media to increase exposure, awareness and public engagement.