Doctors have begun a trial into a rare cardiovascular condition that causes spontaneous heart attacks and predominantly affects young, otherwise healthy women - particularly during pregnancy or following birth.
Survivor Becks Breslin, 36, is among those who initiated the research into SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) after approaching experts.
She told ITV News that she was a fit and healthy 34-year-old when she suddenly woke early one morning with severe, crushing pains in her arm and chest.
Breslin, who is from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, and works at a data clinical research organisation recognised the symptoms as a heart attack.
She was diagnosed with SCAD, which occurs when the vessel wall of a coronary artery suffers an acute bleed, leading to an accumulation of blood that restricts or prevents blood flow to the heart muscle.
She discovered that very little research had been done into the condition and convinced her consultant, Dr David Adlam, to begin the UK's first study into the illness.
"I want to understand why does this condition occur, why does it happen to these women?" Dr Adlam said.
"If we can understand the whys then we might be able to prevent recurrence, which is a major concern."
The clinical trial is being launched today on Rare Disease Day (Monday 29th February) and is being funded by the British Heart Foundation.
The Leicester team has so far found that SCAD patients have extremely flexible vessels, and they hope to look at the genes of SCAD patients and their families, with the hopes of identifying flexibility genes which may be linked to the disease.
Dr Al-Hussaini plans to look at whether female hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, play a role in the development of SCAD. He He also found that SCAD can heal on its own with no sign of scarring, but the risk of it happening again, or why it happened in the first place, remains unclear.
More information can be found on the website scad.lcbru.le.ac.uk
Signs and symptoms of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) include:
- Chest pain
- A rapid heartbeat or fluttery feeling in the chest
- Pain in your arms, shoulders or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual, extreme tiredness