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Prinzmetal's Angina

What Causes Prinzmetal's Angina?

Prinzmetal's angina is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery. This spasm causes the walls of the artery to tighten. This narrows the artery, causing the blood flow to the heart muscle to slow or stop.
Unlike other types of angina that usually occur in someone with coronary artery disease (also called CAD or heart disease), Prinzmetal's angina may occur in people with or without coronary artery disease.

What Are the Symptoms?

Severe chest pain is the main symptom of Prinzmetal's angina. People with Prinzmetal's angina symptoms usually feel a pressure-like pain in or around the:
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Jaw
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Arms.
It may also feel like a squeezing, pressing sensation in the chest.
Other symptoms of Prinzmetal's angina can include:
  • Indigestion or heartburn-type sensation
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness.
The severe pain or discomfort associated with Prinzmetal's angina:
  • Usually occurs at rest
  • Occurs between midnight and early morning hours
  • Is relieved by angina medicine.

Making a Diagnosis

In order to make a diagnosis of Prinzmetal's angina, your healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms of angina. He or she will also recommend certain tests and/or procedures, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a cardiac catheterization.
During the cardiac catheterization, the doctor will look for any artery that spasms when chest pain occurs. If he or she cannot find a suspect artery, medicine may be given that provokes a susceptible artery to spasm.
Before making a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will also consider other conditions that can cause similar angina symptoms. Some of these conditions include:
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Angina Information

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