A cardioneurosis is a mental disorder in which sufferers live constantly in the fear of suffering a heart attack. It comes to panic attacks, fear of death and not infrequently to a complete social withdrawal. The classic symptom of heart neurosis is cardiac pain, which is not due to any organic cause. Read here what causes a heart neurosis can have and how it is treated.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. F40ArtikelübersichtHerzneurose

  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis

Heart Neurosis: Description

Cardiac neurosis (cardiac phobia, cardiophobia, Da Costa syndrome) is a special form of anxiety disorder. Those affected live in constant fear of suffering a heart attack. This fear is often accompanied by physical factors such as palpitations, heart pains or heart stumbling and affects the entire life of those affected. It can increase to panic attacks and a real fear of death.

A classic indication of cardiac neurosis is that a cardiologist can not find a physical cause of the condition. Therefore, cardiac neurosis or anxiety is one of the somatoform, autonomic dysfunctions. This means that the physical complaints of the heart neurosis have no physical cause, but are psychologically conditioned. Sufferers pay more attention to themselves because of their fear, and they perceive every little change in the body as fear. This fear then triggers the actual complaints. It is not uncommon for victims to enter a vicious circle of anxiety and physical symptoms that they can not break on their own.

It is important to note that cardiac neurosis can develop into actual heart disease over time. Likewise, a cardiac neurosis can also be an accompanying symptom of a physical illness. For example, people who have once suffered a heart attack often develop heart neurosis in fear of a re-infarction.

Heart neurosis: frequency

In Germany, about 100,000 people suffer from heart anxiety. About 15 percent of all patients who seek medical attention for heart failure have heart neurosis; most of them are men. A heart neurosis occurs especially in those over 40 years old. Younger people seldom suffer from it.

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Heart neurosis: symptoms

The most important symptom of cardiac neurosis is the fear of a heart attack that constantly accompanies the person. Under certain circumstances, this fear can become so severe that it leads to panic attacks and fear of death.

As is often the case with anxiety, it speeds up the pulse of those affected and increases blood pressure. This can be accompanied by tachycardia, heart pain or heart stumbling. In addition, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating and tremors can occur in cardiac neurosis. Patients usually complain of several symptoms that alternate.

The symptoms of cardiac neurosis can also spread to other organ systems: Typical are indigestion and stomach ache. Sleep disorders are also a common concomitant symptom of cardiac neurosis.

Social withdrawal

A heart neurosis is above all a mental problem, accordingly affected sufferers also mentally. The fear of the heart attack outweighs all other feelings in everyday life. Affected persons suffer from internal restlessness, live in a constant restraint and often show depressive symptoms. They try to avoid all physical exertion, excitement or stress for fear that it could otherwise lead to a heart attack. In most cases, the social environment such as family or work colleagues is also included in this fear, since those affected believe they can not survive on their own. Many lose all confidence in their abilities and strengths. Relatives and friends often do not know how to behave properly in order to avoid anything that could upset the person concerned.

Anyone who suffers from a heart neurosis, despite all the attention he receives, feels most of the time misunderstood and is convinced that no one, even a doctor, can help him.

As a result, many sufferers withdraw themselves. Sometimes friends from helplessness and helplessness turn away more and more from the person concerned. The social loneliness subsequently intensifies the anxiety and symptoms of cardiac neurosis.

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Cardiac Neurosis: Causes and Risk Factors

Cardiac neurosis is a psychosomatic disorder. This means that the symptoms and anxiety that occur do not have a physical cause, but a mental one.

There are several theories where to look for the causes of heart neurosis:

  • Causes in childhood: The literature often describes a disturbed relationship of the parents to their child as a risk factor for a heart neurosis later in life. Different types of relationships can play a role here: mothers are often described as being overprotective and too dominant. Likewise, early separation or neglect may be the reason for the disorder, in which children have no opportunity to learn coping strategies.
  • Diseases in the social environmentScientists believe that the risk of heart failure is greater if a close relative or friend already has heart neurosis or actual heart trouble. Thus, the fearful handling of the heart is lived in the environment and taken over by those affected.
  • mortality: Even deaths in their own environment can cause a heart neurosis. The death of a relative or acquaintance makes the person concerned aware of their own mortality. Many are afraid of death and respond to this anxiety with excessive caution and the belief that they will actually die soon.
  • Conflicts and problemsUnresolved problems and conflicts in everyday life can also contribute to the development of cardiac neurosis. They affect heart function in the normal way: the heart beats faster. This reaction is often misinterpreted and interpreted as a serious illness. So then the other conflicts also take a back seat.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Cardiac neurosis can also be a consequence of a previous illness. For example, people who have suffered a heart attack often develop an overwhelming fear of a new heart attack.

How does a heart neurosis develop?

All these theories have a common point: People with heart neurosis are usually very sensitive, insecure and have little self-confidence. Thus, they often misinterpret a normal heart reaction and interpret it as the onset of a disease. The heart is very sensitive to all mental changes: For example, in the case of anxiety, stress or problems in everyday life, it starts to beat more than usual. Often you sweat more at the same time or start to shiver.

Cardiac neurosis overestimates these symptoms. The sufferer then begins to pay more attention than any other person to changes in their body. The result is a vicious circle of misinterpreted heart actions and fear that can no longer be breached on its own.

Physical requirements

In addition, most of those affected have certain physical conditions that promote the development of cardiac neurosis. While other people develop problems with their stomach, migraines or sleep disorders during stress and strain, people with cardiac neurosis react with heart problems.

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Cardiac neurosis: examinations and diagnosis

The diagnosis of cardiac neurosis is very difficult and can last for many years. Affected persons assume that their symptoms have a physical and thus demonstrable cause. In fact, the cause of cardiac neurosis is in the psyche and can therefore be detected neither with imaging nor with metrological methods. Nevertheless, to clarify a cardiac neurosis by means of examinations a physical cause of the problems should be excluded.