The causes of heart spasms include tobacco use, exposure to cold, use of illegal stimulants and severe emotional stress, according to Mayo Clinic. Other possible causes include high cholesterol, hypertension, alcohol withdrawal and medications that cause vasoconstriction.
Heart spasms are medically known as a coronary artery spasm, a heart condition characterized by the tightening of the muscles in the arterial walls, states Mayo Clinic. This causes the arteries to become narrow, preventing the flow of blood to the heart muscles. Patients who have plaque buildup in the arteries also have a high risk of developing heart spasms. This disease is usually temporary, but if it lasts for long, it can lead to chest pain or even a heart attack.
Heart spasms are common in people with risk factors for a heart disease including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, notes Mayo Clinic. In some cases, the spasms may go unnoticed because they may not show any symptoms. Typical symptoms include slight chest pain, chest tightness, feeling of constriction and pain on the left part of the heart. Treatment of the spasms includes medications such as nitrates, calcium channel blockers, L-arginine and statin medications. A person can reduce the risk of heart spasms by stopping smoking and controlling hypertension.