What are the risks for coronary artery spasm?


Quick Answer

The risk for suffering from a coronary artery spasm vary and depend on some lifestyle factors, as well as possible pre-existing conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health, about two percent of angina sufferers have a coronary artery spasm. Other risk factors include alcohol withdrawal, stress, exposure to cold, medications that cause vasoconstriction and stimulant drugs.

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Full Answer

The Mayo Clinic reports that coronary artery spasms occur when muscles in the arteries that supply blood to the heart tighten, slowing or altogether preventing blood flow to the heart. These spasms are temporary, but they can lead to discomfort or chest pain if they last long enough. Coronary artery spasms are closely related to the symptoms of angina, and they are sometimes called Prinzmetal's angina. Unlike typical angina, spasms may occur while a person is completely at rest.

Risk for experiencing coronary artery spasms may be lowered by quitting smoking and avoiding high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Medications may be prescribed to treat spasms, including nitrates for chest pain, calcium channel blockers to reduce muscle tightening, L-arginine supplements and statins to lower cholesterol. Statins also work as anti-inflammatories, which helps stabilize blood vessels, reducing the chance of rupturing and heart attacks.

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