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What is Variant Angina?

The coronary arteries are primarily responsible for supplying blood to the heart. When a certain coronary artery experiences spasms, it would be narrowed down causing an obstruction to the heart’s blood supply. This phenomenon is called variant angina or Prinzmetal’s angina. The occurrence of spasms in the coronary arteries would either lessen or stop the blood supply to a certain part of the heart.

Causes of an Artery Spasm: Every 4 out of a 100,000 are affected with coronary spasms.

  • When the artery walls’ muscles get contracted it can lead to a spasm in the artery and lead to angina.
  • Atherosclerosis (building up plaque in the artery region) could also lead to a spasm.
  • People who are addicted to alcohol and smoking are easily affected by an artery spasm.
  • People who suffer from high blood pressure and excess cholesterol levels are also prone to these spasms.
  • Cold weathers, emotional stress, drugs (like cocaine), alcohol withdrawal could also lead to artery spasms.
  • 2 percent of variant angina sufferers are diagnosed with these spasms.

Symptoms: Spasms in the coronary artery either would exhibit no symptoms or cause severe chest pain which may eventually lead to a heart stroke.

  • When spasms lead to chest pain, this chest pain is known as angina. Pain beneath the chest bone is the most common symptom.
  • The pain could be crushing, squeezing, constricting, pressurized or could cause chest tightness and the pain is very severe.
  • Pains due to angina could also cause pain in the shoulder, neck, arm and jaw.
  • The most important sign of angina pain is it’s timing. It is usually experienced during rest hours and particularly during nights and can last up to half an hour in extreme cases.

Treating Angina: The main intention of angina treatment is to eliminate a heart stroke by controlling the chest pain.

  • Nitroglycerin is quiet helpful in relieving angina pains.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medication consisting of nitrates or calcium blockers to avoid chest pain.

Variant angina sufferers should see their doctors immediately to avoid life threatening issues such as a heart stroke. it is important to keep your stress and cholesterol levels under control.

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