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Acupuncture for Non-cardiac Chest Pain

Patients with chest pain commonly present in primary care, followed by referral to cardiac clinics in secondary care. However as many as 50% of patients referred to such cardiac clinics are found to have not to have a cardiac-related problem. The causes of non-cardiac chest pain are not always clear, however there is evidence that they could be musculo-skeletal, gastro-intestinal, respiratory or psychiatric, the commonest cause being musculo-skeletal. Non-cardiac patients are usually referred back to primary care, where they often continue to experience chest pain, with as many as three-quarters experiencing limitations in activities, concern about the cause of their symptoms and dissatisfaction with medical care. Acupuncture is increasingly being used to treat non-cardiac chest pain despite limited evidence of its effectiveness. 

In an initial research phase we surveyed patients who attended the Rapid Access Chest Pain Unit at York Hospital, but whose chest pain was non-cardiac in origin. The survey has captured vital information about this population, including their diagnosis and treatment, their chest pain levels, and if still in pain, their interest in receiving acupuncture. Our collaborators included Dr Jo Dumville, a Research Fellow at the University of York, Dr Kathryn Griffith, a GP and Clinical Assistant in Cardiology at the York District Hospital where she works at the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic, Bob Lewin, Professor of Cardiac Rehabilitation and statistician Dr Jeremy Miles. We have published two papers describing this research (Dumville et al 2007, MacPherson & Dumville 2007).



Key publications:

MacPherson H, Dumville JC. Acupuncture as a potential treatment for non-cardiac chest pain – a survey. Acupuncture in Medicine 2007;25(1-2):18-21.

Dumville JC, MacPherson H, Griffith K, Miles JN, Lewin RJ.  Non-cardiac chest pain: a retrospective cohort study of patients who attended a Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic.  Fam Pract. 2007; 24(2):152-7.

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