Background: Patients evaluated for coronary artery disease have a range of symptoms and underlying risk. The relationships between patient-described symptoms, clinician conclusions, and subsequent clinical management and outcomes remain incompletely described. Methods: In this secondary analysis, we examined the association between 4 types of presenting symptoms (substernal/left-sided chest pain, other chest/neck/arm pain, dyspnea, and other symptoms) and patient risk, noninvasive test results, clinical management, and outcomes for stable outpatients randomized in the PROMISE (Prospective Multicenter Imaging Study for Evaluation of Chest Pain) trial. Multivariable regression models were used to evaluate differences in noninvasive test result, all-cause death/myocardial infarction/unstable angina hospitalization and cardiovascular death/myocardial infarction by symptom type. Results: Among 9996 patients, most presented with chest pain (47.2% substernal, 29.2% other), followed by dyspnea (14.9%), and other symptoms (8.7%). Patients with dyspnea were older (median age 63 versus 60, P≤0.02) with higher baseline risk (78.2% with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease >7.5% versus 67.6%, P≤0.02). Using patients with substernal chest pain as a reference, there was no difference in noninvasive test positivity across symptom groups (all P>0.05), but test-positive patients with dyspnea (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66 [95% CI, 0.51-0.85]) or other symptoms (adjusted odds ratio, 0.65 [95% CI, 0.47-0.90]) were less likely to be referred for cardiac catheterization. While symptom type alone was not associated with outcomes, symptom presentation with chest pain or dyspnea did modify the association between a positive noninvasive test and clinical outcome (interaction P=0.025 for both all-cause death/myocardial infarction/unstable angina hospitalization and cardiovascular death/MI). Conclusions: Among low-risk outpatients evaluated for coronary artery disease, typicality of symptoms was not closely associated with higher baseline risk but was related to differences in processes of care and the prognostic value of a positive test. Adverse events were not associated with clinician risk estimates or symptoms alone. These unexpected findings highlight the limitation of relying solely on symptom presentation or clinician risk estimation to evaluate patients for suspected coronary artery disease. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT01174550.
- coronary artery disease
- myocardial infarction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine