Background: A possible link between the heart and brain has been reported for cardiac syndrome X. Anxiety disorder could be a pathophysiological mechanism for this cardiac chest pain. To the authors' knowledge, a quantitative analysis correlating anxiety with the extent of ischemia has not been done.
Methods and results: In this pilot study, we evaluated 20 patients with typical chest pain and completely normal coronary angiograms. These patients were screened with the State Scale and Trait Scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). All patients underwent myocardial perfusion scintigraphic imaging. The scintigrams were scored by three experienced readers having no knowledge of the STAI screening results. Patients with a low trait anxiety had significantly less ischemic segments on the myocardial perfusion imaging than patients with a high trait anxiety (1.8 +/- 1.9 vs 3.5 +/- 0.6, P < .05). For state anxiety, no significant differences could be found.
Conclusion: Cardiac syndrome X patients with high trait anxiety are at risk of having more ischemia.