Print Edition - 2017-04-20  |  Health and Living

Unexplained chest pain may signal higher heart risk

  • study finds

Apr 20, 2017-

Most people who complain to their general practitioner about first-time chest pain don’t get additional diagnostic testing to determine the cause, according to a recent UK study.

But doctors should take it as a possible warning sign because even when the pain is not readily explainable by heart-related or other causes, these people have a higher risk of heart attacks and other cardiac problems over the next five years, researchers say.

“Most people who consulted their GP with chest pain, the cause was not clear, and rather surprisingly the study team found most of these people still did not have a diagnosis for their chest pain six months later,” Dr Peter Croft, one of the study authors, told Reuters Health by email. Croft said patients should feel reassured, though, because the study also found that when people consulted their GPs about chest pain, the doctors were generally good at assessing who was most and least likely to have heart disease.

“If the GP decided the chest pain was not caused by heart disease but by other conditions like stomach problems or muscle strains or chest infection, then this group of patients had the lowest risk of future heart problems (measured over five years),” Croft said.

If the GP decided the chest pain was probably caused by heart disease or decided to send the patient for cardiac investigations anyway, then this group turned out to have the highest rate of future heart diagnoses, he added.

Published: 20-04-2017 09:21

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