Posts Tagged ‘Linked angina’

We know cardiac pain is often  referred to Jaw and neck .

What prevents the neck pain of cervical spinal disease to be referred over the  heart ? Can pure spinal lesions mimic angina ?

The answer seems to be “Yes” . The neuronal  circuit is  there .Only , the traffic has to be reversed. Medical logic is always puzzling. There is indeed an entity called cervical angina.

The cardiac pain  can be  referred any where between  dermatomes  C3 to T 10 It is generally  believed cervical radicular pain  can go only one way . . . ie towards the nape of neck and  arms .Dermatomal overlap ,neural cross talks  thalamic inputs and cortical  reflection and perception always make the subject of referred pain too  complex.

Now,It seems possible ,the neck  pain can  spill over into the anterior chest wall ,mimicking  angina .Imagine the  confusion  if the patient  has both  cardiac and cervical entities ! Does the pain signals from the two sites  collide in the local spinal network ? Does one extinguish or amplify the other ?


refered pain

This article which was published  in the Spinal Cord .

cervical angina  reverse referral pain

Read also linked angina


 1.Guler Net al.Acute ECG changes and chest pain induced by neck motion in patients with cervical hernia: a case report. Angiology 2000; 51:861–865.
2.Wells P. Cervical angina.Am Fam Physician1997;55 2262–2264.
3.Jacobs B. Cervical angina. NY State J Med 1990;90: 8–11.
 4.Baba H et al. Late radiographic findings after anterior cervical fusion for spondylotic myeloradiculopathy. spine 1993;18: 2167–2173.

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Dr Shirely Smith  from charring cross hospital London  wrote this masterpiece  in BMJ in the year 1962 . He was doing a research about the origin of angina like pain in patients who had  upper GI disease or disorders of cervical spine .He found a hidden invisible neural link between heart and it’s neighboring viscera. What he  referred it as linked angina . It links the  pain from ,Esophagus,  gall bladder ,  duodenum ,  cervical spine to the  heart .

This article I  consider as one of the  all time classics in  clinical cardiology . Here is the link for linked angina (Courtesy of BMJ)

linked angina atypical angina abdominal angina  shirley smith cornelio papp 2 bmj

linked angina atypical angina abdominal angina  shirley smith cornelio papp bmj

High lights ( Inferred )  from the  article

We know angina typically occurs on exertion .If it occurs at rest we call it as unstable angina .

Can it occur at rest other than unstable angina ?

Yes it can . ( Post prandial ,Nocturnal, emotional etc)

Can the  heart be the referral site for visceral pain ?

Yes .It seems so .

Can visceral pain be trigger for  developing true angina ?

Again possible . A Patient with documented CAD  develop  a true esophageal pain it is likely  to  induce a sensation of  angina  rather than abdominal pain .Similarly , cervical pain may represent a masked angina in a patient  with active cervical spondylitis .(Homing in of angina to the nearest non cardiac culprit )


Final message

Those were the times when the brain worked more than hands . Common sense prevailed over machine sense .This article argues for a  big debate about the origin of so called atypical angina in a patient with multiple common visceral conditions.Even 50 years later we have little clue  about alimentary -cardiac neural spill over !




Today we live in a complex and confusing and commercial  medical world .We have atleast  a dozen chest  pain triaging protocols in ER . Still errors are  rampant. Errors are acceptable . . . but this one was an absolute  shocker  . . .  “I know a  patient with vague chest/epigastric  pain  , non specific T inversion ,  documented gall stones , landed in cath lab not by accident but  by meticulous planning !”

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