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Printzmetal Angina
April 2002

Q. Can you tell me what the symptoms of Printzmetal Angina are?

A. Angina refers to chest pain that occurs due to heart disease, specifically a blockage in the coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle itself. This occurs to some degree with aging, and is accelerated by other cardiac risk factors including high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes. Typical angina causes chest pain with exertion which may be only a brisk walk or climbing a flight of stairs. Chest pain occurring with emotional stress, eating, or use of the bathroom should also be investigated, and in some cases the pain is felt in the arm or jaw rather than the chest. The pain occurs as the heart rate increases, attempting to supply more oxygen to the heart muscle, and the blocked arteries prevent efficient blood flow. Similar pains can occur due to a spasm of the coronary arteries, although this is usually associated with a blockage as well.

Prinzmetal's angina is a less common form in which the chest pain occurs at rest, presumably due to spasm. Treatment is based on test results as to the severity of the problem and can involve medication, surgery, or both. Modification of the risk factors mentioned is important in all cases.



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