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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Chest pain and coronary heart disease mortality among older men and women in three communities.

  • Author(s): LaCroix, AZ
  • Guralnik, JM
  • Curb, JD
  • Wallace, RB
  • Ostfeld, AM
  • Hennekens, CH
  • et al.

Angina pectoris is a manifestation of coronary heart disease, yet little is known from clinical or epidemiologic studies about its prognosis in older populations. We investigated the relation of uncomplicated angina symptoms to risk of coronary heart disease mortality within 3 years in a prospective study of 8,359 people aged 65 and older residing in three communities. From baseline (1981-1983) to the third year of follow-up (1984-1986), there were 245 deaths from coronary heart disease. Three classifications of chest pain were defined using the Rose Questionnaire: nonexertional chest pain, chest pain on exertion (including angina), and angina. Exertional chest pain was a strong, independent predictor of coronary heart disease death for older men and women. There were no differences in the prognostic implications of this symptom between the sexes; the relative risks being 2.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.4-4.4) in men and 2.7 (1.7-4.2) in women. The risk of coronary heart disease mortality for those reporting chest pain on exertion was at least as high as that for participants whose symptoms met the Rose Questionnaire criteria for angina. The association between exertional chest pain and coronary heart disease mortality was independent of other coronary risk factors. The relation was specific for deaths from coronary heart disease, as there was no association between exertional chest pain and noncoronary causes of death. Chest pain on exertion conveys important prognostic information about risk of coronary death in older populations, regardless of gender.

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