November 15, 2018
1 min read

Search queries for ‘chest pain’ associated with CHD epidemiology

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The frequency of patients who searched online for chest pain symptoms closely correlated with CHD epidemiology, according to a study published in JAMA Cardiology.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first to identify a correlation of chest pain symptom searches online with disease prevalence in cardiovascular disease,” Conor Senecal, MD, cardiology fellow at Mayo Clinic and College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues wrote. “Surveillance of online search engine activity may grow to become an important, emerging data source for cardiovascular research and care.”

Researchers analyzed Google search data from Google Trends and focused on search terms related to chest pain. The volume of searches was focused on the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Data from the CDC Atlas of Heart and Stroke Statistics were assessed for the annual CHD hospitalization rate per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries from 2010 to 2014.

There was a significant correlation between state-by-state CHD hospitalization rates from 2012 to 2014 and search frequency (R = 0.81; P < .001).

January was the peak month for searches in the United States, an 11% increase over the lowest month of June. The United Kingdom had the most searches in December, a 39% increase over the lowest month of July. The most searches in Australia were performed in July, a 19% increase over the lowest month of December.

All three countries had an increase in chest pain searches from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. local time with the least number of searches between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Searches in the United States peaked at 7 a.m., with a 110% increase over the least number of searches between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The United Kingdom peaked at 6 a.m., a 189% increase over the lowest time frame. The highest number of searches in Australia were done at 7 a.m., a 157% increase over the lowest point between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

“Online searching may be an initial contact point for patients experiencing symptoms and may potentially be used to expedite necessary medical evaluation,” Senecal and colleagues wrote. “Care needs to be taken to ensure appropriate information is provided to patients searching for these potentially serious symptoms.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.