Objectives: The aims of the study were to: (i) determine the prevalence of panic disorder (PD) in patients referred to cardiological outpatient clinics for evaluation of chest pain; (ii) compare psychiatric comorbidity, psychological distress, pain characteristics and suicidal ideation in PD and non-PD patients: (iii) compare the prevalence of coronary risk factors and medical comorbidity in PD and non-PD patients; and (iv) describe current PD treatment and need for PD treatment as expressed by PD patients.
Design: A cross-sectional study based on psychiatric and cardiological investigation.
Setting: Four cardiological outpatient clinics in Oslo, Norway.
Subjects: One-hundred and ninety-nine consecutive patients without known heart disease referred to out-patient clinics for investigation of chest pain.
Main outcome measures: Psychiatric state diagnosis (axis I); scores on self-assessment rating scales of psychological factors and pain modalities; cardiological diagnosis.
Results: Thirty-eight per cent of the patients met criteria for current panic disorder (PD). Panic disorder was associated with psychological distress, comorbid psychiatric disorders, medical disorders and significantly higher prevalence of coronary risk factors (P<0.05). Furthermore. the results suggest that these patients were not identified and appropriately treated for panic disorder prior to cardiological investigation. The results indicate that the patients are positive to screening for psychiatric disorder and communicate a need for treatment early in the investigation process.
Conclusion: PD commonly occurs in this chest pain population. Thus, there is a need to educate physicians caring for these patients about PD identification and treatment.