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Heart disease symptoms 'persist in most patients' given all-clear

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Most people who are given the all-clear after undergoing tests for coronary heart disease still report persistent symptoms up to a year-and-a-half later, a new study suggests.

The research suggests that some investigations may worsen patient worries concerning the state of their heart, prompting physical symptoms.

German researchers from University Hospital Dresden studied just over 250 patients who had undergone tests after complaining of chest pains, palpitations or shortness of breath, but who were found to have no detectable sign of coronary heart disease.

Around a fifth of all patients investigated for chest pains have no obvious evidence of coronary heart disease.

Around 70% of the patients studied were still complaining of persistent symptoms up to 18 months after undergoing a coronary angiography, said the researchers in their study paper, which has been published online in the Open Heart journal.

Questionnaires completed by women taking part in the study show they had anxiety levels that were 37% higher than members of the general population, while those of men were 22% higher.

The patients were also 68% more likely to have hypochondria and 120% more likely to have physical symptoms sparked by their state of mind.

The study authors suggest that asking patients to complete such questionnaires could cut the number of people going through further expensive and sometimes invasive tests and ensure patients get the psychological help they require.

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