Recovering from spontaneous coronary artery dissection: Patient-reported challenges and rehabilitative intervention needs

Health Psychol. 2021 Jul;40(7):472-479. doi: 10.1037/hea0001086.


Background: Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is an increasingly recognized cause of acute coronary syndrome that disproportionally affects younger women. The underlying etiology is incompletely understood, postmorbid psychological distress is high, and treatment plans are predominantly based on clinician experience. There remains uncertainty on how to adequately address the needs of patients with SCAD as part of secondary prevention.

Method: As a Define and Refine phase of the ORBIT model (Phase 1), this study investigated SCAD patients' challenges and rehabilitative intervention needs using a qualitative research design. Patients with SCAD were purposively recruited to participate in structured interviews that were analyzed using inductive thematic coding techniques.

Results: Patients with SCAD (n = 15; 86.7% female; mean age = 47.5 years; data saturation reached with patient sample) expressed challenges in (a) navigating uncertainty associated with the disease; (b) living with anxiety; (c) reconciling pre and post-SCAD identities; (d) accurately identifying symptoms and experiencing a sense of isolation in recovery due to gender and young age; and (e) managing changing family dynamics and family members' stress. Intervention needs included (a) addressing unique demographic and cardiovascular profiles when designing programs for cardiac rehabilitation; (b) providing more psychological and peer support resources to address anxiety and sense of isolation; (c) disseminating information on rapidly evolving SCAD research; and (d) acknowledging and providing support to the family system.

Conclusions: The results signal curricula to be included in tailored SCAD programming and underscore the need for further study and dissemination of optimal secondary preventative care for this patient population. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Vessel Anomalies / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Vascular Diseases / rehabilitation*