In a study from Cedars-Sinai, scientists found symptoms of the increasingly common cardiovascular condition known as ischemia with no obstructive coronary arteries (INOCA) can decrease a person’s quality of life, with adverse effects on their physical, mental and social health.
INOCA refers to various conditions in which there is reduced or restricted blood supply to the heart.
Because traditional cardiology training advises physicians to look for blockages in coronary arteries when diagnosing coronary artery disease, INOCA is commonly overlooked as a cardiac condition.
The INOCA symptoms include chest pain, pressure, or discomfort and shortness of breath.
They affected not only people’s home life, social life and mental health but also their overall outlook on life, their sex life, their relationship with their partner or spouse, and their work life.
In the study, more than 1,500 members of the patient support group INOCA International were surveyed in late 2021 and asked to compare aspects of their daily lives before and after INOCA symptoms started.
the team found about three-quarters of the participants reduced their work hours or stopped working, 47.5% retired early, 38.4% applied for disability, and approximately one-third changed their job or role, resulting in lower pay.
Living with INOCA was also linked to a big reduction in functional capacity, comparable to losing the ability to do light housework; dress, bathe or use the toilet independently; or walk down the block.
According to the team, it’s estimated that at least 2 in every 5 patients with chest pain have nonobstructive coronary arteries.
Almost half of the patients surveyed reported living with INOCA symptoms for up to 10 years before diagnosis, and more than half had at least three consultations beforehand.
Nearly 78% were told their symptoms weren’t cardiac, with 54% being told their symptoms were reflux related. About one-third had been referred to a psychiatrist for their symptoms, and nearly half had been prescribed an antidepressant.
Once they were diagnosed, most reported having seen at least three cardiologists for treatment. Less than one-third of respondents had undergone proper testing to determine the best treatment for them.
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The study was conducted by Martha Gulati et al and published in the International Journal of Cardiology.
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