Definition Esophageal spasms are abnormal contractions of the muscles in the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). These spasms do not move food effectively to the stomach. Alternative Names Diffuse esophageal spasm; Spasm of the esophagus Causes, incidence, and risk factors The cause of esophageal spasm is unknown. Very hot or very cold foods may trigger an episode in some people.
Vascular spasms temporary limit blood flow to tissue supplied by that vessel. The most common symptom is pain. Other symptoms are caused by lack of proper circulation and will vary depending on the specific organ affected:
When the spasm affects circulation in a limb, there may be pallor and a sensation of cold in that arm or leg. Limb function and movement will be impaired.
When the spasm affects circulation in the heart, there may be symptoms similar to a heart attack and irregular heartbeats. Other names for chest pain resulting from vascular spasm are Prinzmetal's angina and variant angina.
Signs and tests
These vary depending on the affected organ.
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are early or extra heartbeats that commonly occur and are usually harmless in normal hearts, but can cause problems in hearts with pre-existing disease. Abnormally fast heart rates are classified into two types: supraventricular (meaning "above the ventricle") tachycardias, those that arise in the atria (plural of atrium) or the atrioventricular node, and ventricular tachycardias. In both instances, an extra or early beat may trigger the rapid rhythms. Although the sinus node develops as the specialized site of impulse production, all cardiac muscle cells retain the capacity to become pacemaker cells. Normally, the pacemaking activity of the sinus mode suppresses impulse production by other cells, but if conductance to some other part of the heart muscle is blocked, or if the heart is over stimulated, islands of cells may express their latent impulse-production ability, resulting in extra beats. In other words, impulses are fired from o...
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