Objective: To determine whether rapid access chest pain clinics are clinically effective by comparison of coronary event rates in patients diagnosed with angina with rates in patients diagnosed with non-cardiac chest pain and the general population.
Design: Multicentre cohort study of consecutive patients with chest pain attending the rapid access chest pain clinics (RACPCs) of six hospitals in England.
Participants: 8762 patients diagnosed with either non-cardiac chest pain (n = 6396) or incident angina without prior myocardial infarction (n = 2366) at first cardiological assessment, followed up for a median of 2.57 (interquartile range 1.96–4.15) years.
Main outcome measures: Primary end point—death due to coronary heart disease (International Classification of Diseases (ICD)10 I20–I25) or acute coronary syndrome (non-fatal myocardial infarction (ICD10 I21–I23), hospital admission with unstable angina (I24.0, I24.8, I24.9)). Secondary end points—all-cause mortality (ICD I20), cardiovascular death (ICD10 I00–I99), or non-fatal myocardial infarction or non-fatal stroke (I60–I69).
Results: The cumulative probability of the primary end point in patients diagnosed with angina was 16.52% (95% confidence interval (CI) 14.88% to 18.32%) after 3 years compared with 2.73% (95% CI 2.29% to 3.25%) in patients with non-cardiac chest pain. Coronary standardised mortality ratios for men and women with angina aged <65 years were 3.52 (95% CI 1.98 to 5.07) and 4.39 (95% CI 1.14 to 7.64). Of the 599 patients who had the primary end point, 194 (32.4%) had been diagnosed with non-cardiac chest pain. These patients were younger, less likely to have typical symptoms, more likely to be south Asian and more likely to have a normal resting electrocardiogram than patients with angina who had the primary end point.
Conclusion: RACPCs are successful in identifying patients with incident angina who are at high coronary risk, but there is a need to reduce misdiagnosis and improve outcomes in patients diagnosed with non-cardiac chest pain who accounted for nearly one third of cardiac events during follow-up.
- ECG, electrocardiogram
- RACPCs, rapid access chest pain clinics
- SMR, standardised mortality ratio
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Published Online First 21 June 2006
Funding: This study was funded by the National Health Service (NHS) Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) research and development programme, to which interim progress reports were submitted. The funding body was not involved in study design or analysis.
Competing interests: None declared.
ADT, GSF, HH and NS were responsible for the design and management of this study. NS and CJ were responsible for the statistical analysis. All the authors participated in the preparation of the manuscript.