How can a cervical rib produce symptoms similar to heart attack?
Cervical rib is an extra bone in the neck. It can press on nerve roots coming out of the neck from the spinal cord. If a nerve root from the same spinal segment which supplies the heart gets compressed, the pain produced will be similar in location. But the precipitating factors will be different. If pain due to cardiac problem is produced by exercise, the pain due to root compression will be brought on by neck movement, coughing, sneezing etc.
Heart attack: Damage to a region of heart muscle due to decreased blood supply, usually producing severe chest pain
Cervical rib: Abnormal rib arising from vertebra of the neck. Usually ribs arise from vertebra of chest only