Panic symptoms in chest pain without coronary artery disease: A comparison with panic disorder


Recent reports have suggested similarities in symptom profiles between patients with persistent chest pain without coronary artery disease (CAD) and patients with panic disorder. However, comparison of chest pain patients with an independent sample of patients presenting with symptoms of panic disorder has been lacking to date. The present study examined three groups of patients for painic symptom presence and severity: a sample with recurrent chest pain (CP, n=22) recruited from cardiologists, screened for normal coronary arteries and not selected a priori for psychiatric diagnoses; a sample of patients with panic disorder (PD, n=26) recruit from psychotherapists; and a sample of normal controls (NC, n=39) recurited from the same community. Compared with normals, both CP and PD patients reported significantly more panic symptoms Both CP and PD patients reported significantly more severe sensations of chest pain, dyspnea, paresthesias, and fear of having a heart attack. The three groups were different on reports of palpitations and dizziness, with the PD group reporting the greatest severity of these symptoms, followed by the CP group. The PD sample alone reported significantly greater severity of all other panic symptomatology, relative to the CP and NC samples. A discriminant function analysis indicated that the three groups could be differentated on the basis of symptom severity. These results suggest that notable differences exist in the nature and severity of symptom reports in these two patient groups, despite similarities between panic states and persistent non-organic chest pain as indicated by prior research. © 1990 Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Behavior Therapy