Vasospastic angina/ Prizmetal angina/Variant angina

Overview – Vasospastic angina is a disorder characterized by temporary constriction of the coronary artery. The coronary artery supplies blood to the heart. Blood flow to part of the heart is completely or partially blocked because of the coronary spasm.

The risk factors for vasospastic angina are cigarette smoking. Spasms may be triggered by exposure to cold, tobacco use, emotional stress, illicit drug use such as amphetamines, and cocaine.



  • Recurrent episodes of chest pain.
  • Episodes are predominantly at rest and that many occur from midnight to early morning.
  • A common description of chest pain includes tightness, squeezing, pressure, burning, heartburn, fullness in the chest, a band-like sensation, heavyweight on the chest.
  • Radiation to the neck, throat, lower jaw, teeth, upper extremity, or shoulder is common.
  • Nausea, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, and palpitations may be present.



  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack) – Coronary vasospasm may trigger clot formation.
  • Arrhythmias – These are are common and may be life-threatening during an episode of coronary spasm.



  • Diagnosis is made when there is transient ST-segment elevation on an electrocardiogram when there is an episode of chest pain.


Lifestyle management

  • Follow a healthy diet and exercise program as recommended by your doctor.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking cessation leads to a significant decrease in the frequency of episodes.


Medical management

  • Nitrates are used to prevent spasms and quickly relieve chest pain as it occurs.
  • Calcium channel blockers, which relax the arteries.
  • Statins to prevent spasms.

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