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Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Nov;30(9):1822-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 May 23.

Are there symptom differences in patients with coronary artery disease presenting to the ED ultimately diagnosed with or without ACS?

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  • 1Orvis School of Nursing, University of Nevada, Reno, Mail Stop 134, Reno, NV 89557, USA. mpelter@unr.edu



Symptoms are compared among patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) admitted to the emergency department with or without acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Sex and age are also assessed.


A secondary analysis from the PROMOTION (Patient Response tO Myocardial Infarction fOllowing a Teaching Intervention Offered by Nurses) trial, an multicenter randomized controlled trial, was conducted.


Of 3522 patients with CAD, at 2 years, 565 (16%) presented to the emergency department, 234 (41%) with non-ACS and 331 (59%) with ACS. Shortness of breath (33% vs 25%, P = .028) or dizziness (11% vs 3%, P = .001) were more common in non-ACS. Chest pain (65% vs 77%, P = .002) or arm pain (9% vs 21%, P = .001) were more common in ACS. In men without ACS, dizziness was more common (11% vs 2%; P = .001). Men with ACS were more likely to have chest pain (78% vs 64%; P = .003); both men and women with ACS more often had arm pain (men, 19% vs 10% [P = .019]; women, 26% vs 13% [P = .023]). In multivariate analysis, patients with shortness of breath (odds ratio [OR], 0.617 [confidence interval [CI], 0.410-0.929]; P = .021) or dizziness (OR, .0311 [CI, 0.136-0.708]; P = .005) were more likely to have non-ACS. Patients with prior percutaneous coronary intervention (OR, 1.592 [CI, 1.087-2.332]; P = .017), chest pain (OR, 1.579 [CI, 1.051-2.375]; P = .028), or arm pain (OR, 1.751 [CI, 1.013-3.025]; P <.042) were more likely to have ACS.


In patients with CAD, shortness of breath and dizziness are more common in non-ACS, whereas prior percutaneous coronary intervention and chest or arm pain are important factors to include during ACS triage.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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