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Coronary Artery Vasospasm or Prinzmetal’s Angina

PA VideoChest pain/discomfort caused by muscle spasm of the muscle within the walls of the coronary arteries (blood supply to the heart muscle)

Muscle spasm causes reduction in blood flow to the heart muscle.



Symptoms are often very similar to pain associated with a more typical heart attack (development of a blockage in a heart artery). Symptoms often occur at rest, and at night. This is different than typical chest pain associated with heart artery blockages which is more typically experience during exertion.

  • Chest pressure, heaviness, tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnostic Tests

  • Blood testing to evaluate for heart muscle inflammation/damage; usually ordered in conjunction with presentation to the emergency department
  • A cardiac stress test or angiogram are often required to rule out significant blockages in the coronary arteries


  • Medications that relax the muscle in the arteries can prevent spasm
  • Examples are calcium channel blockers and nitroglycerin type medications

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