The Heart Goes to the War: a Review of the So-Called Soldier's Heart or Irritable Heart of Soldiers Syndrome

Antonia Francesca Franchini


The paper deals with a form of functional heart disorder that caused substantial disability among men in military service. By viewing the condition through the dual lenses of history and modern medical knowledge we can analyse the syndrome and trace the changing medical and social attitudes to it. The disorder is still now present after harrowing events, including natural disasters, assault of individuals, episods of mass violence and combat. A historical review of the syndrome is also useful in extending our understanding of the natural history of stress reactions, their prognostic indicators and the way in which we can intervene to reduce the effects of trauma.

Key Words: Da Costas syndrome -War and anxiety disorders - History of cardiology History of psichiatry

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