Prinzmetal's angina, otherwise known as variant angina, is a rare form of angina that typically occurs in younger people. It is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery, which narrows the artery and causes reduced blood flow to the heart. Common symptoms include severe chest pain, nausea, and fatigue. Treatment for the condition generally involves medications, such as nitroglycerin.
What Is Prinzmetal's Angina?
Angina pectoris, or angina for short, is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood for a short period of time.
There are three types of angina:
The most common types of angina are stable angina and unstable angina. Prinzmetal's angina is rare. It accounts for only about 2 out of every 100 cases of angina. People with Prinzmetal's angina are often younger than those with other forms of the condition.
Understanding the Heart and Coronary Arteries
In order to understand angina, it is helpful to understand the heart and the coronary arteries. Like any muscle, the heart needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, which are carried to it by the blood in the coronary arteries. Similar to other muscles, the harder the heart is working, the more oxygen and nutrients it needs.
The coronary arteries can become narrowed or clogged, however, which can decrease the amount of blood that goes to the heart muscle. When the coronary arteries cannot supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart, angina symptoms can occur.