Psychological and clinical characteristics of female patients with spontaneous coronary artery dissection

Neth Heart J. 2020 Sep;28(9):485-491. doi: 10.1007/s12471-020-01437-7.


Aims: Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is increasingly recognised as a cause of myocardial infarction, but psychological characteristics of patients with SCAD have not yet been extensively investigated. We assessed the prevalence of a broad range of psychological and clinical factors, and their inter-relationships in patients with a history of SCAD. Furthermore, we investigated whether specific clusters of patients with SCAD can be identified.

Methods: Participants were recruited between March and May 2019 from a Dutch SCAD database and completed online questionnaires. Clinical information was verified by review of medical records. Participants were predominantly female (172/183; 94%). Analyses focused on the 172 female patients (mean age 52.0 ± 7.5 years, 37% postmenopausal).

Results: The most common comorbidities of SCAD were migraine (52%), fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD; 29%), chronic pain (29%), and tinnitus (28%). Six women (3%) had pregnancy-associated SCAD. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors were rare (<10%), except for hypertension (31%). Psychological assessment indicated high levels of perceived stress (PSS-10 ≥14; 50%), fatigue (FAS-10 ≥22; 56%), and a frequent history of burnout (25%). The prevalence of depression (9%) and anxiety (12%) was relatively low. Three clusters were identified: (A) FMD and chronic non-ischaemic conditions (tinnitus, chronic pain, and irritable bowel syndrome); (B) migraine; and (C) none of these conditions.

Conclusion: This study shows that perceived stress and fatigue are common in patients with SCAD, in addition to prevalent comorbid FMD, migraine, tinnitus, and non-ischaemic pain conditions. These factors may add to developing tailored rehabilitation programmes for patients with SCAD.

Keywords: Myocardial infarction; Risk factors; Spontaneous coronary artery dissection; Women.