[Unexplained non-cardiac chest pain; its prevalence and natural course]

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1998 Nov 7;142(45):2468-72.
[Article in Dutch]


Objective: (a) To assess whether data on prevalence and natural course of unexplained chest pain are similar to previous results reported for patients with unexplained chest pain in foreign literature; (b) to find biographical or medical record variables predictive of continuing pain.

Design: Retrospective research of medical records.

Setting: University Medical Centre and Diaconessenhuis (peripheral hospital), Leiden, the Netherlands.

Method: Medical records of patients who had been newly referred between 1992 and 1995 to the cardiac outpatient clinic were screened on the discharge diagnosis: unexplained chest pain. Patients were approached by mail with a questionnaire, inquiring about duration, frequency, intensity, functional limitations and medical consumption with regard to their unexplained chest pain.

Results: In 39.8% (1053/2648) of the patients, no explanation was found for their complaints. After 12 and 24 months, 72% and 56% respectively reported still having complaints. 37% experienced limitations in daily activities at the time of the investigation. Sex and duration of pain before visiting the cardiologist were predictors of the persistence of chest pain. 31% of the patients did consult their general practitioner at least once more after the discharge by the cardiologist.

Conclusion: Unexplained chest pain is a common complaint of patients visiting an outpatient clinic for cardiology and often persists. The present results are largely similar to those reported in foreign literature.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Angina Pectoris / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chest Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chest Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution