Prinzmetal angina is an uncommon root of chest pain. It arises once a spasm strikes one of the coronary arteries which are responsible for supplying blood to the heart.
The spasm causes a region of the heart muscle to be deprived of blood supply and angina arises. While this type of angina can lead to some consequences including heart attack and heart arrhythmias, it can be managed effectively once properly diagnosed.
The chest pain experienced by an individual with Prinzmetal angina is interchangeable with the classic, typical angina brought about by atherosclerosis. Similar with the typical angina, an individual with the Prinzmetal form often describe a combination of symptoms including chest tightness, pressure, crushing, fullness, aching, weight or knot in the chest or burning sensation.
The chest discomfort can be accompanied by:
- Dyspnea or difficulty breathing
These symptoms often last for 15 minutes or longer. The angina usually arises while at rest. Most experience one between midnight and early morning.
What is the cause?
Any individual can develop the condition, but women are typically affected. Those who end up with Prinzmetal angina are relatively young, healthy and only have a few risk factors for the typical heart disease except smoking.
It is important to note that smoking is a main factor in triggering angina since tobacco products can lead to arterial spasm.
Aside from smoking, using amphetamines or cocaine can also trigger Prinzmetal angina. In such cases, an individual is likely to end up with permanent or even fatal damage to the heart.
In some instances, Prinzmetal angina is often brought about by “endothelial dysfunction” which is a condition where the interior lining of the arteries do not function normally. This condition is also linked with Raynaud’s phenomenon and migraine headaches.
Management of Prinzmetal angina
If an individual is diagnosed with Prinzmetal angina, it is vital to control the identified risk factors. Remember that it is vital to avoid tobacco products since they are potent stimulants of coronary artery spasm.
The condition can also be controlled by drugs that the doctor will prescribe such as nitrates and/or calcium channel blockers. In addition, statins might be suggested not only to lower the cholesterol level but also improve the endothelial function.
The drugs that might instigate coronary artery spasm that must be avoided include various beta blockers and some migraine medications such as sumatriptan.