A rapid access cardiology service for chest pain, heart failure and arrhythmias accurately diagnoses cardiac disease and identifies patients at high risk: a prospective cohort study

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To conduct a one year follow up study of patients seen in a combined rapid access chest pain, arrhythmia and heart failure clinic.


Local general practitioners, accident and emergency department clinicians and other hospital clinicians were invited to refer patients with a new presentation of chest pain, palpitations and suspected cardiac-induced breathlessness to the rapid access cardiology clinics at Charing Cross Hospital, London, on a one-stop, no appointment basis. Consent to be followed up by a postal questionnaire one year later was sought from all patients attending between 1 November 2002 and 31 October 2003.


1223 patients were seen in the 12 month study period. 940 (77%) consented to one year follow up. 216 (23%) patients had a diagnosis of definite cardiac, 621 (66%) of not cardiac and 103 of possible cardiac disease (11%). 98% of patients diagnosed “not cardiac” did not receive a diagnosis of cardiac disease over the following 12 months. Of patients with diagnosed definite cardiac disease, one year cardiac mortality was 7 of 216 (3%), compared with an age- and sex-matched expected cardiac mortality of 0.9% (standardised mortality ratio 3.5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4 to 7.2). For patients with an initial diagnosis of possible or not cardiac disease, cardiac mortality at one year was 0.3% compared with an expected cardiac mortality of 0.4% (standardised mortality ratio 0.8, 95% CI 0.1 to 2.8).


A rapid access cardiology clinic accurately diagnoses and risk stratifies patients into those with cardiac disease at high risk of cardiac death and those without significant cardiac disease.

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