Abstract: Evaluation of noncardiac chest pain: diagnostic approach, coping strategies and quality of life

Eur J Pain. 2006 Jan;10(1):51-55.

Husser D, Bollmann A, Kuhne C, Molling J, Klein HU.

Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Magdeburg, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.

BACKGROUND: Approximately 30% of coronary angiograms are negative for significant coronary artery disease and patients are classified as having noncardiac chest pain (NCCP). So far, no systematic diagnostic approach to patients with NCCP investigating for possible esophageal, psychiatric and musculoskeletal abnormalities exists.

Furthermore, coping strategies and quality of life are poorly characterized in NCCP patients.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A simple diagnostic approach was applied to 37 consecutive patients (21 female, age 61+/-12 years) with angina-like chest pain and normal coronary angiograms. Twenty-one patients were found to suffer from psychiatric disorders (combined anxiety (A) and depression (D): n=10, D: n=5, panic disorder (P): n=3, somatization (S): n=3) based on their Symptom Check List 90 scores and according to DSM IV-R criteria. Sixteen patients had an improvement of their chest pain after oral esomeprazole (40mg for 7 days) and were therefore diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Musculoskeletal abnormalities including chostochondritis (n=4), thoracic spondylodynia (n=1), and fibromyalgia (n=1) were found in six patients. Multiple diagnoses were confirmed in six patients with GERD (additional D n=3, additional musculoskeletal disorders n=3). Patients with psychiatric disorders showed a diminished quality of life (MOS-SF 36), more frequent chest pain, less treatment satisfaction (Seattle Angina Questionnaire) and more rumination (Trier Coping Scales) compared to GERD patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Immediate combined psychiatric and orthopedic evaluation as well as esomeprazole administration following exclusion of coronary artery disease may confirm the causes of noncardiac chest pain. Identification of psychiatric disorders seems especially warranted since these patients experience a reduced quality of life and exhibit pathologic coping strategies.

PMID: 16291298 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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