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Variant Angina: Heart Spasms
What is Variant Angina?
What are the Symptoms of Variant Angina?
Intermittent chest pain that:
- Occurs while resting, or during the overnight or early morning hours
- May spread to other parts of the body, such as the throat, arms, between the shoulder blades, or stomach (may feel like an ulcer or indigestion)
- Gives a feeling of tightness, pressure, or heaviness
- Palpitations—rapid, irregular, or skipped heartbeats
- Trouble breathing
How Is Variant Angina Diagnosed?
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)—To record the electrical activity of your heart. This test can identify heart rhythm problems and damage to your heart caused by a previous heart attack.
- Blood tests—To look for cholesterol, blood glucose, and inflammatory marker levels. Testing for the presence/quantity of heart muscle enzymes in the blood may indicate heart muscle damage.
- Holter monitor —Records your heart's electrical activity for up to 72 hours.
- Stress test —To evaluate heart function during exercise.
How Is Variant Angina Treated?
- Stopping the use of any drugs that cause coronary artery spasm
- Taking medication to help prevent coronary spasm
- Reviewing your lifestyle and habits to reduce your risk for heart disease, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity
- Having frequent follow-up appointments to check your progress
- Quitting smoking
What Can You Do?
- Follow your treatment plan, which may include medications and lifestyle changes
- Avoiding drugs that may worsen your condition
- Reporting any new symptoms to your doctor right away
- Learning how anxiety and stress affect you and develop methods to help you cope more effectively
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
Office on Women's Health http://www.womenshealth.gov
Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com
Acute coronary syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 13, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2014.
Coronary artery disease (CAD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 16, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2014.
Kusama Y, Kodani E, et al. Variant angina and coronary artery spasm: the clinical spectrum, pathophysiology, and management. J Nippon Med Sch. 2011;78(1):4-12.
Prinzmetal angina, variant angina, and angina inversa. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Prinzmetals-Angina-Variant-Angina-and-Angina-Inversa%5FUCM%5F435674%5FArticle.jsp, Updated March 19, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2014.
Variant angina pectoris. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 6, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2014
- Update Date: 01/29/2014