Everything You Need to Know About the Coronary Artery Spasm

Coronary artery Spasm


Many of us may not have heard the term Coronary Artery Spasm which is simply a heart-related issue. It owes to an involuntary muscular contraction in the artery, which affects blood flow to the heart.

It is also known as Coronary Artery Contractions, which is the spasm in the artery. Let’s understand the issue and all the related aspects of the disease in detail. 


What is Coronary Artery Spasm?

A person who experiences Coronary Artery Spasm may feel chest pain while resting or moving.

The reason being the wall of the artery becomes narrow due to sudden muscular contraction, which ultimately obstructs blood flow to the heart.

Such a person may experience a heart attack and other heart-related issues sooner or later. Those who smoke, have high cholesterol and high blood pressure are prone to the disease. 


What are the Symptoms?

Many times, a person fails to understand whether he or she has coronary artery spasms. The reason being it doesn’t reflect noticeable symptoms. It can fatal at times unless paid attention on time.

It may be because of the spasm in the artery when someone feels light or severe pain in and around the chest for a brief period. 

Some of the symptoms include pain in the left chest, a tightness in the chest, feeling of constriction. One may experience pain that spreads from the chest to arms, neck, or the jawbone.  

Correlation between chest pain and Coronary Artery Spasm

Some predictable symptoms may give you a hint about Coronary Artery Spasm.

If someone gets chest pain during rest only or lasts for as little as five minutes or maximum up to half an hour, he or she may have Coronary Artery Spasm.

Also, if chest pain occurs early morning or at night, this may be due to the Artery Spasm.


Causes that lead to Coronary Artery Spasm

The most common causes of the disease are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As per a report, only 2 per cent of people with chest pain and pressure have coronary artery spasms.

People who have atherosclerosis are likely the victim of this disease. It is a condition where a plaque that develops inside the arteries prevent the blood flow.

Triggering factors which make people vulnerable for the heart issue

If you are susceptible to heart diseases, then you are equally vulnerable to Coronary Artery Spasm.

The risk of arterial constriction is too high if someone has high cholesterol and high blood pressure due to several reasons.

Other factors like smoking, extreme stress, extreme cold, alcohol withdrawal also put you at risk.

You may develop arterial constriction throughout the time if you consume an excessive amount of stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Experts believe people who have had a history of coronary artery spasms should take note of these triggering factors and religiously work to do away with them.

If one continues to ignore these risk factors, they could land themselves in serious issues soon.


How can it be diagnosed?

The moment a physician finds out that a patient has a coronary artery spasm, he/she suggests various tests to check the potential problem in the heart.

The doctor advises going for a series of imaging tests to get a clear picture of what lies inside. It helps the expert to prepare a roadmap about the treatment plan.

Following tests are carried out to zero in about the issue: 

Echocardiogram: It is a sound wave-based ultrasound test that depicts the heart issue clearly.

Electrocardiogram (EKG): It is referred to measure the electrical activity of your heart.

Coronary angiography: An X-ray test where dye is used to peep inside the arteries. The exercise helps to measure the exact amount of blood flowing through the heart.

Based on these tests, doctors diagnose whether a patient does have Coronary Artery Spasm or not.

He or she gets an idea of whether a patient has other heart issues similar to artery spasm. Accordingly, they plan treatment protocols to keep your heart in check.


What treatment solutions does a doctor generally suggest?

The main objective of the treatment is to relieve chest pain. The doctor advises prescription medications, such as the following:

Nitrates help to dilate arteries and relax artery walls, leading to smooth blood flow to the heart. It could be used as long-term medication or as a pill to have on hand if you have another spasm.

L-arginine is a dietary supplement which also proves helpful. Some even suggest Calcium channel blockers that relax the arteries, thereby reducing chest tightness. 

Doctors could advise such patients to quit smoking, consume a low-fat, low-sodium diet, and keep BP in check. May prescribe some medicines to control high BP and high cholesterol to prevent future heart attacks.


Potential health risks

Coronary artery spasms are temporary and brief phenomena, but they can lead to serious health issues. When they’re left untreated, it may occur again and lead to the following complications: 

Heart arrhythmias: It occurs when the heart beats irregularly, i.e., either too fast or too slow.

Heart attacks: Complete or partial blockage of blood flow leads to this condition.

Cardiac arrest: It occurs when someone’s heart stops beating at sudden as blood doesn’t flow in an ample amount to the brain. It leads to the immediate death of a person.


Precautionary measures

Coronary artery spasm is considered a chronic condition that should be kept in check to take care of your heart health. If one follows simple precautionary measures, one will not fall prey to it.

Doctors suggest eating a low-fat diet, regular detox and exercise, control blood pressure, and quit smoking to such patients who show symptoms of the heart-related issue.

Other than that, avoiding specific triggers like high-stress situations can be beneficial.


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