Background Little is known about the mechanisms explaining an increased perception of heart symptoms in congenital heart disease (ConHD). In the present study, it was suggested that a combination of high trait anxiety and disease history increases the perception of heart symptoms. Purpose It was tested whether false heart cues will result in an increased perception of heart symptoms in patients with ConHD and anxiety. Method Thirty-six patients with ConHD and 44 healthy controls performed two exercise tasks. During one of the exercise tasks, participants were exposed to a false heart cue consisting of false heart rate feedback (regular or irregular). Perceived heart symptoms were assessed and heart rate, arterial partial pressure of CO(2), and respirator rate were monitored continuously. Results In line with the predictions, false heart rate feedback resulted in an increased perception of heart symptoms in high trait anxious patients with ConHD that could not be explained by acute heart dysfunction. However, unexpectedly, this effect was not observed immediately after the false heart rate feedback task but after a second exercise task without false feedback. Conclusion The results suggest that not the sole presence of ConHD but ConHD in combination with high trait anxiety results in a vulnerability to overperceive heart symptoms.
Karsdorp, P. A., Kindt, M., Rietveld, S., Everaerd, W., & Mulder, B. J. (2009). False heart rate feedback and the perception of heart symptoms in patients with congenital heart disease and anxiety. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 16, 81-88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-008-9001-9