Prinzmetal’s angina is crushing chest pain that is experienced almost exclusively at rest and usually between midnight and 8 AM. It’s related to a spasm in the artery rather than a blood clot blocking the vessel.
Although painful, it usually ends spontaneously and doesn’t provoke a heart attack. It’s more common in younger women who do not have evidence of coronary artery disease, especially in women who smoke.
Diagnosing Prinzmetal’s Angina
Cardiologists usually diagnose Prinzmetal’s angina on the basis of the patient’s description of her symptoms. Because many patients with Prinzmetal’s also have underlying atherosclerosis, a coronary angiogram may be performed. When Prinzmetal’s is suspected in patients who are undergoing angiography for coronary artery disease, a chemical may be added to provoke a vessel spasm. If the vessel’s response is greater than expected, Prinzmetal’s is diagnosed.
Treating Prinzmetal’s Angina
Patients are often prescribed nitroglycerine to take when symptoms begin. Treatment with calcium channel blockers can also reduce the number of episodes of Prinzmetal’s.
Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011
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