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This is a condition resulting from motility disorders of the esophagus ranging from absent peristalsis to hyperperistalsis and spasm. Diffuse esophageal spasm typically causes substernal chest pain in association with difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) of both liquids and solids. The pain may be severe and may awaken the patient from sleep. Liquids that are very hot or cold may aggravate the pain. With time, this disorder may evolve into achalasia (failure to relax smooth muscle fibers of the gastrointestinal tract). There may be reflux of recently swallowed food. Combinations of all of these with abnormal lower or upper esophageal sphincter function complete the clinical picture. Esophageal spasm may also produce a severe pain in the absence of dysphagia that is indistinguishable from angina pectoris . This pain is often described as a substernal squeezing pain and may occur in association with exercise. A specific cause is seldom found, but there may be associated reflux esophagitis (i...
Alternative Names Variant angina; Angina - variant; Prinzmetal's angina Symptoms Spasm may be "silent" -- without symptoms -- or it may result in chest pain or angina. If the spasm lasts long enough, it may even cause a heart attack. The main symptom is a type of chest pain called angina, which can be felt under the chest bone and is described as: Constricting Crushing Pressure Squeezing Tightness It is usually severe. The pain may spread to the neck, jaw, shoulder, or arm. The pain: Often occurs at rest May occur at the same time each day, usually between midnight and 8:00 AM Lasts from 5 to 30 minutes The person may lose consciousness. Unlike angina that is caused by hardening of the coronary arteries, chest pain and shortness of breath are often not present when you walk or exercise. Signs and tests Tests to diagnose coronary artery spasm may include: Coronary angiography ECG Echocardiography
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.
You should know
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