Atypical angina is a classification of a form of chest pain called angina. The term “atypical” is used to describe a form of anginal chest pain that does not fit the typical presentation. Chest pain is often characterized as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, or tightness. Typical anginal symptoms occur during times of stress or activity due to decreased blood supply to the heart.
Instead of being heart-related, most causes of atypical angina result from symptoms brought on by respiratory, musculoskeletal, or gastrointestinal diseases. Psychiatric causes may also be a causative factor.
Causes of atypical angina include:
Atypical chest pain is increasingly prevalent in the elderly and attributes to 20–60 percent of unrecognized myocardial infarction. People with diabetes, women, and the elderly have been found to have atypical symptoms, increasing the rate at which they are misdiagnosed.
Atypical chest pain symptoms include:
A medical evaluation ruling out the most serious causes of chest pain is often the priority when first visiting the emergency care center for a case of unexplained chest pain. Duration, intensity, and other presenting symptoms of chest pain may help locate an underlying cause, helping to determine if the pain is atypical or typical.
When an underlying cause is discovered, treatment will be tailored to the cause. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for costochondritis, antacids might be prescribed for heartburn, and anxiolytics and mood stabilizers may be prescribed for serious anxiety issues. Relaxation techniques may also help those suffering from increased stress that causes atypical chest pain.
|Typical angina symptoms||Atypical angina (noncardiac) symptoms|
|Squeezing, heaviness, pressure, vice-like aching, burning, tightness||Pleuritic, sharp, pricking, knife-like, pulsating, lancinating, choking|
|Pain that travels to the shoulder, neck, jaw, epigastrium||Involves the chest wall being tender|
|Relatively predictable presentation||Random onset|
|Lasts 3–15 min||Lasts seconds, minutes, hours, or all day|
|Often relieved by nitroglycerin||Variable response to nitroglycerin|