A long-term follow-up study of patients with ischaemic heart disease versus patients with nonspecific chest pain

J Psychosom Res. 1995 Nov;39(8):977-85. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(95)00065-8.


Ninety consecutive patients who were admitted to hospital with acute chest pain were followed-up five years later. At the time of the original admission, all of the patients received a detailed physical and psychiatric evaluation. Seventy-one patients were diagnosed as having ischaemic heart disease, and 19 were diagnosed as having nonspecific chest pain. Patients with nonspecific pain were younger, consumed greater amounts of alcohol, smoked more than their organic counterparts, and were more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorder. The five-year assessment was carried out using a self-report questionnaire. Of the original 71 patients with ischaemic heart disease, 14 had died; 43 questionnaires were returned, 80.2% of the original sample. Sixteen (84.9%) of the patients with nonspecific pain were followed up; none had died. Both groups were predominantly male. The patients with nonspecific pain still smoked more than the patients with ischaemic heart disease, and they had significantly more symptoms of anxiety. The overall prevalence of psychiatric morbidity remained high, however, in both groups. Patients who had psychiatric illness at the time of the original assessment were more anxious at follow-up and more likely to complain of chest pain than those who had been well. Patients with nonspecific chest pain continued to seek treatment on a regular basis from their general practitioners either for chest pain or for other symptoms, but few were in frequent contact with hospital services. The possible preventive effects of psychiatric intervention at an earlier stage in both groups of patients needs to be investigated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chest Pain / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / diagnosis*