CHARLOTTE, N.C. January 03, 2023 – Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute has established a Center for Women’s Cardiovascular Health, led by Dr. Esther (Soo Hyun) Kim, a nationally known cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist who is an expert in treating spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD).
The new center is the first in the greater Charlotte region to offer expertise in SCAD and FMD, important causes of heart attack and stroke in women. In addition, Kim and colleagues will care for women with the full range of heart and vascular disease concerns. These include heart attacks and aneurysms, as well as patients at high risk for heart disease due to family history or risk factors affected by lifestyle, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The center will also formalize the management of pregnant women with heart disease and provide care for those who are identified as high-risk for future heart disease due to risk factors identified during pregnancy, such as a pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
“Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute is special in many ways,” said Kim. “It is on the cutting edge of cardiovascular imaging, has nationally recognized expertise in multiple cardiovascular procedures and is recognized as an innovator in the way it delivers heart and vascular care. Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute has all the components necessary to treat a wide range of common cardiovascular diseases, but it is also exceedingly prepared to care for patients with more uncommon cardiovascular diseases, such as SCAD and FMD.”
FMD is a disease of blood vessels caused by abnormal cell development in the walls of arteries, leading to arterial blockages, tears and aneurysms. It can cause a heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure. It is different from other heart problems that result from plaque buildup in the arteries. It’s also not due to blood vessel inflammation or blood clots.
SCAD, which is a tear in a heart vessel, is an uncommon cause of heart attacks overall, but it accounts for about 40% of heart attacks in women under age 50. Women account for 90% of SCAD patients. Many patients with SCAD also have a vascular disorder, including FMD. Kim leads the largest multi-center registry for SCAD patients in the country, which currently enrolls patients from more than 20 sites.
“Most of my SCAD patients are women in their mid-40s to 60s who have no other cardiac risk factors,” said Kim. “It’s a rare disease and many patients have never met anyone else with the same diagnosis. It’s very meaningful work to care for them.”