- With Mayo Clinic cardiologist
Martha Grogan, M.D.read biographyclose window
Martha Grogan, M.D.Martha Grogan, M.D.
Dr. Martha Grogan is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. She is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and received her medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. Dr. Grogan has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 1995 and is a consultant in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and is an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
Dr. Grogan is a noninvasive cardiologist specializing in heart failure, adult congenital heart disease and echocardiography. She has witnessed firsthand the importance of patient education in the treatment of diseases such as congestive heart failure and is excited about the tremendous educational opportunities now available through the Internet.
- Coronary artery spasm: Cause for concern?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Coronary artery disease: Angioplasty or bypass surgery?
Coronary artery spasm: Cause for concern?
What is a coronary artery spasm?
from Martha Grogan, M.D.
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|Coronary artery spasm|
A coronary artery spasm is a temporary tightening (constriction) of the muscles in the wall of one of the arteries that supplies blood flow to your heart muscle. This can narrow and decrease or even completely prevent blood flow to part of the heart muscle.
If the spasm lasts long enough, it can lead to chest pain (angina) and even a heart attack (myocardial infarction). These spasms are sometimes referred to as Prinzmetal's angina or variant angina. Unlike typical angina, which usually occurs with physical activity, coronary artery spasms often occur at rest.
Coronary artery spasms are more common in people with risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but the spasms can happen in people who have no risk factors, too. Coronary artery spasms can also occur in people who have conditions that affect their immune systems, such as lupus.
Coronary artery spasms may be triggered by:
- Tobacco use
- Exposure to cold
- Extreme emotional stress
- Use of illegal stimulant drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine
Treatment of coronary artery spasms may include medications such as:
- Nitrates, which can relieve chest pain
- Calcium channel blockers, which can help reduce muscle tightening in your chest
- L-arginine, a supplement that can help prevent spasms
- Statin medications, which not only lower cholesterol but have other beneficial effects on your heart arteries to prevent spasms
You can reduce your risk of coronary artery spasms by quitting smoking and controlling high cholesterol and high blood pressure.Next question
Coronary artery disease: Angioplasty or bypass surgery?
- Stern S, et al. Coronary artery spasm: A 2009 update. Circulation. 2009;119:2531.
- Fuster V, ed. et al. Hurst's The Heart. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed July 26, 2012.