Objectives: We sought to evaluate the ability of psychiatric anxiety-disorder history to discriminate between women with and without angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD) in a population with chest pain.
Background: A total of 435 women with chest pain underwent a diagnostic battery including coronary angiography in order to improve testing guidelines for women with suspected CAD.
Methods: Women referred for coronary angiography completed questionnaires assessing prior treatment history for anxiety disorder and current anxiety-related symptoms. Analyses controlled for standard CAD risk factors.
Results: Forty-four women (10%) reported receiving prior treatment for an anxiety disorder. This group acknowledged significantly higher levels of autonomic symptoms (e.g., headaches, muscle tension [F = 25.0, p < 0.0011 and higher behavioral avoidance scores (e.g., avoidance of open places or traveling alone by bus [F = 4.2, p < 0.05]) at baseline testing compared with women without prior anxiety problems. Women with an anxiety-disorder history did not differ from those without such a history with respect to the presence of inducible ischemia or use of nitroglycerin, although they were younger and more likely to describe both "tight" and "sharp" chest pain symptoms and to experience back pain and episodes of nocturnal chest pain. Logistic regression results indicated that the positive-anxiety-history group was more likely to be free of underlying significant angiographic CAD (odds ratio = 2.74, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 6.5, p = 0.03).
Conclusions: Among women with chest pain symptoms, a history of anxiety disorders is associated with a lower probability of significant angiographic CAD. Knowledge of anxiety disorder history may assist in the clinical evaluation of women with chest pain.