Prevalence and Overlap of Noncardiac Conditions in the Evaluation of Low-risk Acute Chest Pain Patients


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Abstract

Background:When patients present to the emergency department with a complaint concerning for heart disease, this often becomes the primary focus of their evaluation. While patients with noncardiac causes of chest pain outnumber those with cardiac causes, noncardiac etiologies are frequently overlooked. We investigated symptoms and noncardiac conditions in a cohort of patients with chest pain at low risk of cardiac disease.Methods:We analyzed data from a prospective registry of patients who were evaluated in our chest pain evaluation center. Registry participants completed standardized and validated instruments for depression (by Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9), anxiety (by Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD-7), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD; by GERD Symptom Frequency Questionnaire). Chest pain characteristics were recorded; severity was reported on a 10-point scale.Results:A total of 195 patients were included in the investigation. Using the instruments noted above, the prevalence of depression was 34%, anxiety was 30%, and GERD was 44%, each of at least moderate severity. 32.5% of patients had 2 or more conditions. The median for the severity of angina was 7/10 and the number of episodes over the preceding week was 2, respectively. Severity of angina was associated with PHQ-9 (r = 0.238; P < 0.001) and GAD-7 (r = 0.283; P < 0.001) scores. The number of angina episodes over the prior week correlated with GERD Symptom Frequency Questionnaire (r = 0.256; P < 0.001) and PHQ-9 (r = 0.175; P = 0.019) scores. No correlation was observed between any of the scores and body mass index, smoking tobacco, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia.Conclusion:In our cohort of low-risk acute chest pain patients, depression, anxiety, and GERD were common, substantial overlap was observed. The severity of these noncardiac causes of chest pain causes correlated with the self-reported severity and frequency of angina, but weakly. These conditions should be part of a comprehensive plan of care for chest pain management.

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