'Spontaneous' coronary artery dissection. The challenge of detection, the enigma of cause

J. Wisecarver, J. Jones, T. Goaley, B. McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Sudden death secondary to acute dissection of a coronary artery is a rare, but increasingly recognized, cause of sudden, unexpected death in apparently healthy persons. It has been reported more frequently in women and has been associated with sudden death during the puerperium. It has also been reported that these involved coronary vessels contain increased numbers of eosinophils and often show areas of cystic medial necrosis. In this article, we report a case of sudden death in a 47-year-old white woman due to dissection of the distal segment of her left anterior descending coronary artery. There was marked involvement of the coronary arterial walls with cystic degeneration of the media with accumulation of glycosaminoglycans as demonstrated by Alcian blue staining. There was no eosinophilic infiltrate within the arterial walls. This cause is unusual in that this woman's mother and brother both have had aneurysms, which stresses the importance of not only searching carefully for these lesions, but also of obtaining family history in such cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-62
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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