Angina as a symptom of psychiatric illness

South Med J. 1988 Nov;81(11):1412-6. doi: 10.1097/00007611-198811000-00018.


We retrospectively studied all patients who had normal coronary angiograms at The Methodist Hospital during the year 1984 (8% of all angiograms). Patients were surveyed eight to 18 months after angiography. Of the 216 patients (83% of total sample), 130 were female and 86 male. Sixty-three percent of the women and 50% of the men satisfied the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, and 20% satisfied the criteria for panic attacks. On the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) Somatization Scale, 64% had scores above the average reported for psychiatric outpatients. Eighty-one percent received only reassurance about the absence of heart disease, and 25% received continuing nitrate therapy in the absence of heart disease. A majority of these patients remain untreated functional "cardiac neurotics" with untreated anxiety symptoms. We make suggestions regarding a clinical profile to identify these patients and appropriate measures to avoid prolonged disability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angina Pectoris / etiology*
  • Angina Pectoris / psychology
  • Angina Pectoris / therapy
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Buspirone / therapeutic use
  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / etiology*
  • Hyperventilation / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panic / drug effects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications*
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Buspirone