December 1959

Spurious Heart DiseaseA Problem in the Management of Coronary Disease

Author Affiliations

Washington, D.C.

Brig. Gen. (MC), U.S. Army Ret. Former Chief of the Department of Medicine and Cardiology, Walter Reed Army Hospital. Presently Director of Medical Education and senior attending in internal medicine, Washington Hospital Center; Clinical Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine; Consultant in Cardiology, Walter Reed Army Hospital.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;104(6):914-920. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270120070011

Spurious heart disease resulting from an erroneous diagnosis and consequent treatment for nonexistent coronary artery disease is common. While spurious coronary disease does not result in death, it causes unnecessary restriction of physical activity and diet, expensive diagnostic procedures and therapy, and loss of time from work. It frequently produces a type of disability which is more detrimental to the patient, his family, and his community than true coronary artery disease.

Numerous factors are responsible for the origin and aggravation of spurious coronary disease. They relate to the nature of coronary disease, the patient, and the attending or consulting physician.

The incipient and subtle nature of coronary disease, the multiple symptoms by which it may be manifested, and the fact that if often defies diagnosis until an acute coronary occlusion occurs are features which produce anxiety on the part of the patient and overdiagnosis and false diagnosis by attending

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