In my reading of the scientific and medical literature, I have come across the term “retrosternal oppression”.

Source: Jerjes-Sánchez, C. “Cardiology in the ER: A Practical Guide”, Springer Nature Switzerland (2019), p. 4, Table 1.2. Characteristic of Chest Pain Caused by Pneumothorax:

<50%: ipsilateral chest pain bound to respiration, initially sharp and pleuritic, but may become dull or achy over time.

>50% retrosternal oppression, in hypertensive modality a circulatory collapse is a clinical presentation. Sudden dyspnea is the main symptom in both conditions

I know what “retrosternal” means, but I’ve never heard of it when paired with “oppression”. I found one definition of “oppression” in any medical or clinical context; to refer to acts of coercion and/or subjugation on matters related to health.

I don’t think that this is what I’m looking for.

While I was hunting for a definition, I came across a related term: “oppression biosynthesis”.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’ve never heard of this term either.

My questions are:

  1. What is “retrosternal oppression” in clinical medicine?
  2. What is “oppression biosynthesis” in biochemistry?
  • 2
    Literally the only Google results I get for "oppression biosynthesis" is your post of this exact question on Reddit and possibly someone's poorly transcribed notes. Far better to focus your question on just one thing, per StackExchange policies, and to leave out questions about things that you can't show really exist.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 31, 2022 at 17:05
  • 3
    Can you provide a link to the source where you found the "oppression biosynthesis" term?
    – Carey Gregory
    Aug 31, 2022 at 21:30
  • I found "oppression biosynthesis" in what looks like an outline of study notes: link Page 2 of 35 contains the following: #MECHANISM OF ANTIAGREGANT EFFECT OF ACIDUM ACETYLSAUCYLICUM +**oppression biosynthesis** of thromboxan Sep 2, 2022 at 3:26
  • The link seems to be of MCQs, the question is what is the mechanism of anti-aggregatory effect of acetylsalicylic acid. The answer given is oppression biosynthesis of thromboxane A2, which the author seems to imply that it suppresses it's synthesis. It seems like that it is a (mis)translated page.
    – Mesentery
    Sep 2, 2022 at 10:36
  • It appears that we have a consensus, sort of. This is not a medical term that I missed, but it is likely derived from an awkward, if not faulty translation of other works. I am grateful for everyone's input, and hope to be able to return the favor at my earliest opportunity. Sep 3, 2022 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


It is likely that the first language of the authors of Cardiology in the ER: A Practical Guide is not English. Just a few lines above the table you reference is the following sentence:

Physicians in charge must be in warning about that the severity of symptoms and the outcome are not related in some cases of ACS.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the copy editors at Springer were very thorough. Thus, "retrosternal oppression" is likely a mis-translation of "oppressive retrosternal pain." I'm not sure I've ever come across a patient who describes their chest pain as "oppressive," but I have heard someone describe it "like an elephant is standing on my chest."

Indeed, "oppressive" is sometimes used to describe the pain of pericarditis. From Khandaker et al 2010 (PMCID 2878263):

Dull, oppressive pain can also occur in pericarditis, making it difficult to distinguish from myocardial ischemia.

As for, "oppression biosynthesis," that sounds like another mis-translation (or nonsense). If you'd like us to refute that, please provide a link as suggested by Carey in the comments.

  • 2
    "retrosternal oppression" gives quite a few hits on Google Scholar. As far as I can tell, the authors likely mean to write "(perception of) retrosternal pressure". In your example, too, it seems likely the author really meant to indicate "pressure" rather than "oppression". Not sure if it's an English language usage issue, an old style terminology, or what. It does feel a bit like something a student might write because it sounds more medical-termy than "pressure", or maybe they are trying to separate physical pressure from perceived pressure.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 31, 2022 at 23:55
  • 1
    @BryanKrause One thing that is notable about those Google Scholar results is that a surprising number of them are from the 1950's. Given that the number of publications per year has majorly increased, I suspect older publications are very over-represented in the sample. This adds a lot of weight to your "old style terminology" theory.
    – Ian Campbell
    Sep 1, 2022 at 12:23

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