Classification

The World Health Organization classifies this condition as a somatoform autonomic dysfunction (a type of psychosomatic disorder) in their ICD-10 coding system. In their ICD-9 system, it was classified under non-psychotic mental disorders. The syndrome is also frequently interpreted as one of a number of imprecisely characterized “postwar syndromes”.

There are many names for the syndrome, which has variously been called cardiac neurosis, chronic asthenia, effort syndrome, functional cardiovascular disease, neurocirculatory asthenia, primary neurasthenia, and subacute asthenia. Da Costa himself called it irritable heart and the term soldier’s heart was in common use both before and after his paper. Most authors use these terms interchangeably, but some authors draw a distinction between the different manifestations of this condition, preferring to use different labels to highlight the predominance of psychiatric or non-psychiatric complaints. For example, Paul writes that “Not all patients with neurocirculatory asthenia have a cardiac neurosis, and not all patients with cardiac neurosis have neurocirculatory asthenia.”None of these terms have widespread use.

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