SCAD patients help A-level student’s studies

When Ailsa Hamilton, an A-level student, decided to do an Extended Project Qualification focusing on SCAD, she reached out to Beat SCAD for help in her research. The Extended Project Qualification is equivalent to half an A level and is about developing research and analytical thinking skills in an area of the student’s choice.

Ailsa’s mum, Anna, had a SCAD in October 2019, so it’s a topic close to her heart. She created a questionnaire for SCAD patients, so she could gather real-world, first-hand information about the impact SCAD has had on patients’ lives.

Beat SCAD promoted the survey Ailsa (pictured right) created and there was a great response from patients. She received 183 responses which gave her lots of information about their lived experiences.

The essay was divided into four sections covering medication, aftercare, emotions felt by patients, investigations and operations and how misdiagnosis of SCAD can negatively affect a patient. From the survey it showed that 46.2% of patients felt worried or anxious, which could have led to other health complications, suggesting that misdiagnosis has a negative impact on patients’ emotional wellbeing.

In the investigations and operations section of the essay Ailsa asked what patients felt they missed out on due to misdiagnosis. 43.9% of people said they missed out on thorough and appropriate investigations, which Ailsa said “raised the question, are patients being misdiagnosed due to a lack of proper investigations which would uncover that the patient is suffering from SCAD?”

However, when patients were correctly diagnosed, the treatment they received was described as excellent and good. Patients described the effectiveness of treatment of SCAD as very good and good.

As expected, the conclusion to the essay question, “Can the misdiagnosis of spontaneous coronary artery dissection have a negative impact on the patient’s overall wellbeing?”, was that misdiagnosis of SCAD does have a negative impact on the patient’s overall wellbeing.

Ailsa contacted us again recently to tell us she has achieved an A* for her 5,000-word essay, which is a fantastic achievement – well done Ailsa!

Ailsa said: “Beat SCAD was so helpful and friendly with helping me conduct the survey, I really appreciated Debbie’s support and willingness to help me gain real data from SCAD patients. The overall experience of collecting information about SCAD, that has affected my family directly, and being able to research and write about it has been exciting, hard work (but worth it) and eye opening. I think that I have learnt a lot from this experience and have been very grateful for all BeatSCAD’s help.”

Anna (Ailsa’s Mum) has this advice for SCAD patients: “Be kind and gentle to yourself as you recover mentally and physically from the shock of having experienced a SCAD. I found it helpful to gradually get back to normal and to set small targets along the way. Talking openly to friends, family and work colleagues about my experience helped which also meant that they learnt about SCAD too!”

Debbie Oliver, Beat SCAD Trustee, said: “We were very pleased to help Ailsa with her research and that she got such a good response from SCAD patients, who are always willing to help raise awareness, especially of the reality of living with SCAD. We’d like to congratulate her on her brilliant grade and thank her for raising awareness of SCAD.”