Esophageal Contribution to Chest Pain in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease

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We conducted a prospective study to determine the role of the esophagus in causing chest pain in patients with established CAD on optimum therapy. Thirty-two men with documented CAD who complained of frequent and usually daily retrosternal chest pain were evaluated. Following a standard esophageal manometry and acid perfusion test, simultaneous two-channel ambulatory Holter monitor and esophageal pH record tests were performed for 24 hours. Fifty-three episodes of chest pain were documented in 20 patients; 11 patients were free of pain. Of the 20 patients who complained of chest pains, 17 (85 percent) demonstrated at least one episode of PPR, defined as a drop in distal esophageal pH to less than 4 within ten minutes before or after the onset chest pain. Episodes of asymptomatic GER were common. The correlation of PPR with chest pain was 70 percent (37/53 episodes) and of ischemic ECG changes with chest pain 13 percent (7/53); in the remaining, there was no correlation with either. Two patients demonstrated simultaneous PPR and ischemic ECG changes. Seventeen esophageal motility abnormalities were observed in 14 patients (45 percent). It is our conclusion that esophageal disorders contribute to chest pain in patients with documented CAD. In this group, GER plays a greater role than in those with normal coronary arteries. In addition, esophageal motility disorders are common in these patients. Esophageal testing can be undertaken safely in these patients.