My patient with angina symptoms also complains of neck pain with left arm numbness. Could they be related?

Short answer, yes! Anterior chest pain associated with cervical intervertebral disk disease, ossified posterior longitudinal ligament or other spinal disorders is sometimes referred to as “cervical angina” (CA) or “pseudoangina” and is an often overlooked source of non-cardiac chest pain. 1-5

Although its exact prevalence is unknown, 1.4% to 16% of patients undergoing cervical disk surgery may have symptoms of CA. 1 Conversely, 1 study reported 5% of patients with angina pectoris having cervical nerve root pathology.5 Many patients describe their chest pain as “pressure” or crushing in quality mimicking typical cardiac ischemia chest pain, often resulting in extensive cardiac workup.  To add to the confusion, some patients even respond to nitroglycerin! One-half of patients also experience autonomic symptoms such as dyspnea, vertigo, nausea, diaphoresis, pallor, fatigue, and diploplia.1

Certain clues in the patient’s presentation should help us seriously consider the possibility of CA: 1-3

  • History of cervical radiculopathy eg, subjective upper extremity weakness or sensory changes, occipital headache or neck pain
  • Pain induced by cervical range of motion or movement of upper extremity
  • History of cervical injury or recent manual labor (eg, lifting, pulling or pushing)
  • Pain lasting greater than 30 min or less than 5 seconds and not relieved by rest
  • Positive Spurling maneuver ie, reproduction of symptoms by rotating the cervical spine toward the symptomatic side while providing a downward compression through the patient’s head

CA is often attributed to cervical nerve root compression, likely mediated by compression of C4-C8 nerve roots which also supply the sensory and motor innervation of the anterior chest wall.

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that experimental stimulation of spinothalamic tract cells in the upper thoracic and lower cervical segments have been shown to reproduce angina pain? 6


  1. Susman WI, Makovitch SA, Merchant SHI, et al. Cervical angina: an overlooked source of noncardiac chest pain. The Neurohospitalist 2015;5:22-27.
  2. Jacobs B. Cervical angina. NY State J Med 1990;90:8-11.
  3. Sheps DS, Creed F, Clouse RE. Chest pain in patients with cardiac and noncardiac disease. Psychosomatic Medicine 66:861-67.
  4. Wells P. Cervical angina. Am Fam Physician 1997;55:2262-4.
  5. Nakajima H, Uchida K, Kobayashi S, et al. Cervical angina: a seemingly still neglected symptom of cervical spine disorder. Spinal Cord 2006;44:509-513.
  6.  Cheshire WP. Spinal cord infarction mimicking angina pectoris. Mayo Clin Proc 2000;75:1197-99.

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My patient with angina symptoms also complains of neck pain with left arm numbness. Could they be related?

How can I distinguish cardiac asthma from typical bronchial asthma?

Certain clinical features of cardiac asthma, defined as congestive heart failure (CHF) associated with wheezing, may be useful in distinguishing it from bronchial asthma, particularly in older patients with COPD (1-3).
• Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea associated with wheezing
• Presence of rales or crackles, ascites or other signs of CHF
• Poor response to bronchodilators and corticosteroids
• Formal pulmonary function test with bronchoprovocation demonstrating minimal methacholine response.

Cardiac asthma is not uncommon. In a prospective study of patients 65 yrs of age or older (mean age 82 yrs) presenting with dyspnea due to CHF, cardiac asthma was diagnosed in 35% of subjects. Even in non-elderly patients, cardiac asthma has been reported in 10-15% of patients with CHF (2).

The mechanism(s) underlying cardiac asthma is likely multifactorial. Pulmonary edema and pulmonary vascular congestion have traditionally been considered as key factors either through edema in the interstitial fluid of bronchi squeezing the bronchiolar lumen or by externally compressing the entire airway structure and the bronchiole wall. Reflex bronchoconstriction involving the vagus nerve, bronchial hyperreactivity, systemic inflammation, and airway remodeling may also play a role (1,3). 

Treatment of choice for cardiac asthma typically includes diuretics, nitrates and morphine, not bronchodilators or corticosteroids (1,3). 

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that the term “cardiac asthma” was first coined by the Scottish physician, James Hope, way back in 1832 to distinguish it from bronchial asthma!


1. Litzinger MHJ, Aluen JKN, Cereceres R, et al. Cardiac asthma: not your typical asthma. US Pharm. 2013;38:HS-12-HS-18.
2. Jorge S, Becquemin MH, Delerme S, et al. Cardiac asthma in elderly patients: incidence, clinical presentation and outcome. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2007;7:16.
3. Tanabe T, Rozycki HJ, Kanoh S, et al. Cardiac asthma: new insights into an old disease. Expert Rev Respir Med 2012;6(6), 00-00.


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How can I distinguish cardiac asthma from typical bronchial asthma?

Should I consider fosfomycin in the treatment of urinary tract infection in my male patient with suspected prostatitis?

Although fosfomycin (FM) has been approved by the FDA only for the treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) in women, it may also have a role in the treatment of acute and chronic prostatitis among males given its favorable levels in the prostate tissue. 1-5

Despite lack of studies comparing the efficacy of FM with that of commonly used antibiotics for treatment of prostatitis, the potential utility of FM is supported by several reports of its efficacy in the treatment of prostatitis, including those caused by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing gram-negative rods. 1,4-5

When considering FM for treatment of prostatitis, a higher dose than customary may be needed (3 g once daily, not every 48-72 h) . 4 Although the optimal duration of therapy with FM is unclear in this setting, 12-16 weeks of therapy was used in 2 patients with recurrent UTIs and prostatitis due to multi-drug resistant ESBL-positive E. coli. 4

Given its pharmacokinetics and lack of proven efficacy, avoid FM in pyelonephritis, perinephric abscess or UTI with bacteremia. 2


  1. Falagas ME, Vouloumanou EK, Samonis G, et al. Fosfomycin. Clin Microbiol Rev 2016;29:321-347.
  2. Wankum M, Koutsari C, Gens K. Fosfomycin use. Pharmacy Times. November 30, 2017.
  3. Cunha BA, Gran A, Raza M. Persistent extended-spectrum β-lactamase-positive Escherechia coli chronic prostatitis successfully treated with a combination of fosfomycin and doxycycline. International J Antimicrob Agents 2015;45:427-29.
  4. Grayson ML, Macesic N, Trevillyan J, et al. Fosfomycin for treatment of prostatitis: new tricks for old dogs. Clin Infect Dis 2015;61:1141-3.
  5. Falagas ME, Rafailidis PI. Fosfomycin: the current status of the drug. Clin Infect Dis 2015;61:1144-6.
Should I consider fosfomycin in the treatment of urinary tract infection in my male patient with suspected prostatitis?