This article describes validating studies for diagnosing panic disorder in some patients with angiographically normal coronary arteries (NCA) and chest pain. Psychiatric interviews of 94 such patients showed that 34% met the diagnostic criteria for panic disorder. Further studies showed that NCA patients with panic disorder were more disabled at 3.5-year follow-up, had more relatives with panic disorder, were more likely to suffer from major depression, and were more likely to respond to 35% CO2 challenge with panic symptoms. Because panic disorder is highly disabling but responds well to psychological and pharmacologic treatments, screening NCA patients in the cardiology population for this disorder is recommended.
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