, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 201-209

Recent developments in chest pain of undetermined origin

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The syndrome of angina-like pain with normal epicardial coronary vessels is a very common and expensive clinical problem. Patients suffering from this condition frequently present a diagnostic challenge. Cardiac and musculoskeletal disorders must be excluded prior to identifying the esophagus as the source of pain. The term “chest pain of undetermined origin” (UCP) has been proposed to refer to this condition. Esophageal dysmotility was previously considered a major source for chest pain; however, recent studies indicate that esophageal reflux is the most common cause of esophageal pain. Two controlled trials of acid suppressive agents in patients with chest pain have shown that omeprazole provides effective pain relief for the majority of these individuals. Visceral hyperalgesia and psychologic disturbances are also commonly noted in patients with UCP. Much remains to be learned about the etiology of visceral hyperalgesia and the precise role of psychologic abnormalities in these patients. Until further information is available, treatment with imipramine or trazodone has been shown to offer effective relief of chest pain for subgroups of patients with UCP. Psychologic intervention is also valuable in the management of some patients. Studies of other therapeutic regimens continue to be conducted.