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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Coronary Artery Spasm
      Category : Health Centers > Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Spasm

Alternate Names : Vasospastic Angina, Variant Angina, Prinzmetal's Angina

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

The coronary arteries are a pair of blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscles. A spasm in these arteries known as a vasospasm reduces blood flow to the heart. This causes a chest pain called angina.

What is going on in the body?

Most often, vasospastic angina occurs while a person is at rest or it wakes a person from sleep. Typical angina is linked with physical activity and caused by fat deposits clogging the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Vasospastic angina differs in that it can happen whether a person:

  • is active or resting
  • does or does not have clogged arteries from atherosclerosis
  • When the spasms occur, blood flow to the heart lessens. This causes the pain and raises the risk of a heart attack.

    What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    The coronary arteries and other blood vessels may constrict due to:

  • certain medications, such as vasopressin or ergonovine
  • cocaine
  • exposure to cold
  • high levels of stress
  • Sometimes, strenuous activity can bring on an attack.


    Next section


    Coronary Artery Spasm: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eric Berlin, MD
    Reviewer: Vincent J. Toups, MD
    Date Reviewed: 06/01/01

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