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Noncardiac chest pain: systematic review of the literature on prognosis

Authors Meresh E, Piletz J, Halaris A

Received 28 October 2017

Accepted for publication 14 December 2017

Published 1 February 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 1—9


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Kones

Video abstract presented by Edwin Meresh.

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Edwin Meresh, John Piletz, Angelos Halaris

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Medical Center, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL, USA

Background: Noncardiac chest pain (NCCP) is defined as persistent angina-like chest pain with no evidence of cardiac disease. There is some controversy about the long-term morbidity and mortality outcomes of NCCP patients. Many studies have found no significant differences in death rates in chest pain patients without coronary artery disease compared to the general population. However, studies that include longer follow-up periods and a better characterization of the NCCP population reveal a twofold elevation in the relative risk of adverse cardiac events over 5–26 years. This review sought to identify studies in relation to cardiovascular and psychological prognosis of NCCP patients.
Methods: PubMed database and reference lists from relevant publications were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were systematic reviews, prospective studies, and retrospective surveys from 1970 to 2011. Search terms were as follows: chest pain, noncardiac chest pain, nonspecific chest pain, unexplained chest pain, prognosis of noncardiac chest pain, prognosis of angina with normal angiography, and angina with normal coronary arteries.
Results: Studies supporting worse outcome (cardiac morbidity and mortality; n=16) included 173,875 patients with mean age 57 and mean length of follow-up 7.5 years. Studies supporting good outcome (n=25) included 244,998 patients with age 50 and length of follow-up 5 years. Articles supporting poor psychological outcome (n=9) included 3,987 patients and length of follow-up 2 years.
Conclusion: There are mixed data on long-term morbidity, cardiovascular adverse events, and mortality of NCCP patients. Some studies provide supporting evidence for poor outcome, while others provide evidence for positive outcome. However, many patients with NCCP have prolonged psychosocial comorbidity. The heterogeneity of NCCP and study populations limited definitive conclusions. However, many patients with NCCP have psychiatric morbidity and poor quality of life. Several questions remain about NCPP with respect to the psychopathology and pathophysiology of this condition. Whether NCCP patients have good or bad outcome requires careful risk stratification.

Keywords: chest pain, noncardiac chest pain, anxiety, angina with normal coronary arteries, microvascular angina, prognosis

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