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South Med J. 1988 Nov;81(11):1412-6.

Angina as a symptom of psychiatric illness.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX 77030.


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.

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