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Eur J Gen Pract. 2009;15(3):141-6. doi: 10.3109/13814780903329528.

Chest pain in primary care: epidemiology and pre-work-up probabilities.

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Department of General Practice/Family Medicine, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.



Chest pain is a common complaint and reason for consultation. We aimed to study the epidemiology of chest pain with respect to underlying aetiologies and to establish pre-work-up probabilities for the primary care setting.


We included 1212 consecutive patients with chest pain, aged 35 years and older, attending 74 general practitioners (GPs). GPs recorded symptoms and findings of each patient and provided follow-up information. An independent interdisciplinary reference panel reviewed clinical data of every patient and decided on the aetiology of chest pain at the time of patient recruitment.


The prevalence of chest pain among all attending patients was 0.7%. The majority (55.9%) of patients were women. Mean age was 59 (35-93) years. Of these patients, 53.2% had chest pains at the time of consultation and 29.6% presented with acute (<48 hours' duration) chest pain. Pain originating from the chest wall was diagnosed in 46.6% of all patients, stable ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in 11.1%, and psychogenic disorders in 9.5%; 3.6% had acute coronary syndrome (ACS).


The study adds important information about the epidemiology of chest pain as a frequent reason for consulting primary care practitioners. We provide updated pre-work-up probabilities for IHD for each age and sex category.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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