Chest pain is linked to poor finances

Chest pain is linked to poor finances
Chest pain is linked to poor finances

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Chest pain and shortness of breath are common symptoms of angina, a condition that is more common than previously thought. Genre picture. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

A squeezing chest pain and difficulty getting air. Vascular spasm is relatively common among middle-aged Swedes and the symptoms are above all linked to factors such as stress and poor finances, shows a large Swedish study.

Vascular spasms often occur in connection with physical exertion or strong emotions such as anger, and are caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.

Common symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath which usually go away within ten minutes.

The new study that has gone to the bottom of how common the condition is among middle-aged Swedes shows that approximately 3.5 percent are affected.


– It was a little more than we expected, and it shows that angina is common, says Kerstin Welén Schef, doctor at the heart clinic at Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm and one of the researchers.

The study, published in the journal Heart, involved 29,000 women and men aged 50-64 who answered a questionnaire about angina symptoms. Blood pressure and a range of other parameters were also examined.

Vascular spasm is often caused by the accumulation of fat, atherosclerosis, in the coronary arteries of the heart. But only a small proportion of the people with symptoms of angina had pronounced atherosclerosis, which surprised the researchers. Just over half had completely normal coronary vessels.

Self-perceived stress

Neither were classic risk factors for atherosclerosis that were primarily linked to angina. Factors such as high levels of self-perceived stress and depression, poor finances and being born outside Sweden played a greater role.

– That psychological and socio-demographic factors were so important was surprising, says Kerstin Welén Schef.

She believes that care needs to get better at picking up these types of factors in people with symptoms of angina and offering help, for example psychological treatment.

The article is in Swedish

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