Angina pectoris during daily activities and exercise stress testing: The role of inducible myocardial ischemia and psychological distress

Pain. 2008 Oct 31;139(3):551-561. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2008.06.009. Epub 2008 Aug 9.


Physicians often consider angina pectoris to be synonymous with myocardial ischemia. However, the relationship between angina and myocardial ischemia is highly variable and we have little insight into the sources of this variability. We investigated the relationship of inducible myocardial ischemia on SPECT stress perfusion imaging to angina reported with routine daily activities during the previous four weeks (N=788) and to angina reported during an exercise stress test (N=371) in individuals with confirmed or suspected coronary disease referred for clinical testing. We found that angina experienced during daily life is more strongly and consistently associated with psychological distress and the personal threat associated with angina than with inducible myocardial ischemia. In multivariable models, the presence of any angina during routine activities over the prior month was significantly associated with age, perceived risk of myocardial infarction, and anxiety when compared to those with no reported angina in the past month. Angina during daily life was not significantly associated with inducible myocardial ischemia on stress perfusion imaging in bivariate or multivariable models. In contrast, angina experienced during exercise stress testing was significantly related to image and ECG ischemia, though it was also significantly associated with anxiety. These results suggest that angina frequency over the previous four weeks is more strongly associated with personal threat and psychosocial distress than with inducible myocardial ischemia. These results lend support to angina treatment strategies that aim to reduce threat and distress as well as to reduce myocardial ischemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Affective Symptoms / complications
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Age Factors
  • Angina Pectoris / diagnostic imaging
  • Angina Pectoris / etiology*
  • Angina Pectoris / physiopathology
  • Angina Pectoris / psychology
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / surgery
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon