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A coronary artery spasm is a temporary tightening (constriction) of the muscles in the wall of one of the arteries that supplies blood flow to your heart muscle. This can narrow and decrease or even completely prevent blood flow to part of the heart muscle.
If the spasm lasts long enough, it can lead to chest pain (angina) and even a heart attack (myocardial infarction). These spasms are sometimes referred to as Prinzmetal's angina or variant angina. Unlike typical angina, which usually occurs with physical activity, coronary artery spasms often occur at rest, often between the hours of midnight and early morning.
Coronary artery spasms are more common in people with risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but the spasms can also happen in people who have no risk factors.
Coronary artery spasms may be triggered by:
Treatment of coronary artery spasms may include medications such as:
You can reduce your risk of coronary artery spasms by quitting smoking and controlling high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Rekha Mankad, M.D.
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