Hypnosis Treats Unexplained Chest Pain
Study Shows Hypnotherapy Reduces Chest Pain That Is Not Related to Heart Disease
Are Heart Symptoms Missed in Women?
But cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, warns that ruling out a cardiac cause, especially among women, is easier said than done.
Women are more likely than men to have noncardiac chest pain. But they are also more likely to have heart diseaseheart disease-related chest pain that is not picked up by conventional diagnostic tests.
A coronary angiogram can miss a potentially life-threatening disorder called microvascular disease. In that disorder smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart may have plaque deposits that are spread out rather than form a major blockage.
As many as 3 million American women may be at high risk for heart attacks without knowing it because they have microvascular disease, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health revealed last January.
"Before we can say for sure that someone's chest discomfort is noncardiac in nature, we need to do a thorough investigation," Goldberg says.
She is chief of women's cardiac care at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital and the author of the book Women's Healthy Heart Program - Lifesaving Strategies for Preventing and Healing Heart Disease. She is also a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
Goldberg stresses that because heart disease is often missed in women, pursuing a diagnosis is especially important.
"The danger in a study like this one is that women with chest pain may give up looking for a cause too quickly, and focus, instead, only on making the pain go away," she says.