Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: a systematic review of physical and psychosocial recovery following discharge from hospital

Lis Neubeck, Sheona McHale, Mark Ross, Steve MacGillivray, Mary Galbraith, Coral Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is increasingly recognized as an important cause of myocardial infarction, particularly among women. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection survivors may not know what physical activity is safe and effective, and there may be a psychosocial burden of living with a SCAD diagnosis.

This review aimed to determine the evidence regarding physical activity, cardiovascular risk factors, or associated factors, and the psychosocial impact of SCAD for SCAD survivors after hospital discharge.

A systematic review was completed in accordance with PRISMA guidelines.

Data Sources
We searched Medline, Embase, CinAHL, PsychInfo, and Google Scholar until November 2021.

Eligibility criteria for study selection
Outcomes of interest were physical activity participation levels, cardiovascular risk factors and associated risk factors, and psychosocial recovery from SCAD. We included any study (qualitative or quantitative) that reported data pertinent to understanding the impact of SCAD on physical activity and psychosocial aspects of recovery. We also included papers that reported cardiovascular risk or associated risk factors where studies reported outcomes of SCAD survivors. We excluded papers that only provided information on in-hospital management. Any reports that were non-empirical were excluded.

The review included 28 studies. These used a range of methods. None were randomized controlled trials. There were 4167 SCAD participants although some were sourced from the same SCAD registries, so they may not be unique. They were mainly female (n = 3897, 93.5%, range = 57.7–100%), with mean age 48.0 ± 9.8 years at index event. Participants mostly came from the USA, Canada, or The Netherlands. We found very limited evidence for cardiorespiratory fitness improvements following cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Existing CR was not tailored to SCAD specific needs and SCAD survivors lacked guidance about appropriate physical activity. Some participants had high levels of psychosocial distress. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection survivors highlighted the need for tailored support that included family members. Many SCAD survivors have traditional risk factors including hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, and overweight/obesity. Chest pain following SCAD is common.

There is an urgent need to develop physical and psychological recovery programmes for SCAD survivors and test effectiveness via randomized controlled trials. Psychosocial support is particularly required, given the high burden of psychosocial issues.

Data registration
Prospero CRD42021254798.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-676
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number7
Early online date15 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2022


  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Physical activity
  • Psychosocial health
  • Recovery
  • Risk factors
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Medical–Surgical
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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