Vasospastic Angina

Vasospastic Angina: What is It and How to Treat It

Vasospastic angina, also known as prinzmetal angina, is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow in the coronary arteries due to spasms. It is the least common type of angina but can be a serious condition. In this article we will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of vasospastic angina.

Causes of Vasospastic Angina

Vasospastic angina is caused by spasms in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. It can be triggered by cold temperatures, physical exertion, stress, or a combination of these factors. Other potential causes include smoking, alcohol, caffeine, certain medications, and air pollution. It is also associated with a variety of medical conditions, such as vasculitis, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease.

Symptoms of Vasospastic Angina

The main symptom of vasospastic angina is chest pain. It usually occurs without warning and can last up to 15 minutes. Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, arms, or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations.

Diagnosis of Vasospastic Angina

The diagnosis of vasospastic angina is made based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history, as well as a physical examination. The doctor may also order tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, cardiac catheterization, and coronary angiography.

Treatment of Vasospastic Angina

Vasospastic angina is usually treated with medications such as calcium channel blockers, nitrates, and beta blockers. These medications help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding triggers and quitting smoking may also be advised. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to open blocked arteries or relieve spasms.