Long-term outcome from tricyclic antidepressant treatment of functional chest pain

Chandra Prakash, Ray E. Clouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Antidepressants are of demonstrated value in short-term treatment of functional chest pain, but long-term outcome data are unavailable. Follow-up information over a median of 2.7 years (0.8-8.6 years) was systematically obtained from 21 outpatients treated with tricyclic antidepressants after incomplete response to antireflux therapy. Initial treatment produced at least moderate symptom reduction or remission in 17 subjects (81.0%). Of these, 7 (41.2%) were successfully treated continuously or for symptom relapses over an average of 2.6 years; 5 (29.4%) discontinued successful treatment after >0.5 years with sustained benefits; and 5 (29.4%) eventually discontinued treatment because of side effects or for uncertain reasons (1 having a sustained remission). Low-dose tricyclic antidepressants were considered the most effective long-term chest pain treatment significantly more often than were antireflux medications or calcium-channel blockers in this selected patient group (P < 0.05 for each). We conclude from this retrospective review that fully three fourths of subjects with functional chest pain who initially respond to open-label treatment with low-dose tricyclic antidepressants will use them continuously or for symptom relapses over at least the next two to three years and consider them the most effective treatment for their symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2373-2379
Number of pages7
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Chest pain
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Tricyclic antidepressants


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