What is the definition of Cardiospasm?
Cardiospasm, is a condition caused by achalasia, a rare disorder of the esophagus, which is the tubular part of the digestive tract through which food passes from the throat to the stomach. Achalasia is characterized by a reduced ability for the esophagus to push food into the stomach (peristalsis) and the inability for the lower esophageal sphincter to relax due to permanent esophageal nerve damage, dilation, and paralysis. These failures of esophageal motility and the sphincter, among other symptoms, cause a pain called cardiospasm that many may mistake for a heart attack.
What are the symptoms for Cardiospasm?
Symptoms of achalasia include a gradual, progressive inability to swallow (dysphagia), associated with occasional mild chest pain (cardiospasm). As the esophageal paralysis progresses, some individuals may experience intense chest pain. Food that becomes trapped in the esophagus from achalasia may be regurgitated into the lungs (aspiration).
Additional symptoms of achalasia may include heartburn, belching, persistent cough (especially at night), weight loss, dry eyes and mouth, vomiting, aspiration pneumonia, and even death. Individuals with achalasia also have an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
What are the current treatments for Cardiospasm?
Treatment for achalasia may be non-surgical or surgical.
Non-surgical treatment for achalasia focuses on opening and relaxing the esophageal sphincter and may include pneumatic dilation by balloon endoscopy, Botox (botulinum toxin type A) injections, and medications, such as nitroglycerin (Nitrostat), isorsorbide, or nifedipine (Procardia).
Surgical treatment for achalasia includes Heller myotomy, which is used to open the esophageal sphincter; laparoscopic fundoplication, which creates an anti-reflux valve at the top of the stomach to prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).
After surgery, about 15% of patients may develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is treated with medications.