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UGA study finds anxiety linked to chest pain in children
Date:11/16/2012

erious medical conditions that require a doctor's evaluation. In adults, pain in the chest is often linked to a cardiac problem. In children, however, less than 2 percent of patients receive a cardiac diagnosis for their pain.

The Sibley Heart Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the largest pediatric heart centers in the world, seeing an average of 2,500 new patients with acute chest pain each year.

"We know up front that 99 percent of these patients will not have a heart complication at all. The trick is, it is not zero, and I cannot miss the one patient with heart disease because the consequences could be catastrophic," said Dr. Robert Campbell, chief of the Sibley Heart Center and division director of the department of pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The study also observed that noncardiac chest pain patients have a higher level of functional disabilityor the inability to participate in everyday activities like making it through a day without a nap or running across a football field. They also spent less time at school and were less involved in extra-curricular activities.

"These kids also report greater levels of physical symptoms with unclear causes, like joint pain, stomach aches, head aches," Lee said. "These symptoms are believed to be psychological manifestations of stress. Sometimes your brain doesn't tell you that you are stressed out, but your body does, so you will experience symptoms like these."

Pediatric patients with noncardiac chest pain also reported higher levels of anxiety sensitivity, a fear of experiencing physical symptoms and additionally fearing that those symptoms are related to a catastrophic health issue.

"Psychological functioning is heavily related to pain," Blount said. "Pain is a sensory experience, but your attention to one thing or another and your emotions can impact your experience of pain. And how debilitating the pain is for you can be
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Contact: Ronald Blount
rblount@uga.edu
706-542-1173
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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