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Coronary artery spasm

  • Alternative Names

    Variant angina; Angina - variant; Prinzmetal's angina


    Spasm may be "silent" -- without symptoms -- or it may result in chest pain or angina. If the spasm lasts long enough, it may even cause a heart attack.

    The main symptom is a type of chest pain called angina, which can be felt under the chest bone and is described as:

    • Constricting
    • Crushing
    • Pressure
    • Squeezing
    • Tightness

    It is usually severe. The pain may spread to the neck, jaw, shoulder, or arm.

    The pain:

    • Often occurs at rest
    • May occur at the same time each day, usually between midnight and 8:00 AM
    • Lasts from 5 to 30 minutes

    The person may lose consciousness.

    Unlike angina that is caused by hardening of the coronary arteries, chest pain and shortness of breath are often not present when you walk or exercise.

    Signs and tests

    Tests to diagnose coronary artery spasm may include:

    • Coronary angiography
    • ECG
    • Echocardiography