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Coronary Artery Spasms

A coronary artery spasm is a sudden contraction of the muscles within the arteries of your heart (coronary arteries). This causes your arteries to narrow and prevents blood from flowing to your heart. This can lead to a variety of conditions including: heart attack and the development of coronary artery disease (CAD).

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Causes of Coronary Artery Spasms

The main cause of coronary artery spams is endothelial dysfunction. This causes reduced blood flow. If prolonged, this reduced blood flow can lead to a heart attack. However, there are certain traits, conditions or habits may raise your risk for this condition. These are known as risk factors.

Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary artery spams:

  • Older age
  • Family History/Genetics
  • Female gender

Modifiable risk factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes: When your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
  • Little to no physical activity.
  • Obesity or having a body mass index “BMI” of 30 or greater.
  • Excess use of stimulants (i.e. cocaine and amphetamines).

Symptoms of Coronary Artery Spasms

Symptoms of coronary artery spams may be similar to a heart attack. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain, fullness, discomfort or pressure.
  • Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Lightheadedness/Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) of over 100 beats per minute.
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sweating

Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Spasms

To make an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will perform tests as well as ask you about any symptoms and previous medical history. Some of the diagnostic tests and procedures may include:

Treatment of Coronary Artery Spasms

Treatment of coronary artery spams are focused on relieving chest pain. Some treatment options include lifestyle changes, medications, and medical and surgical procedures.

Lifestyle Changes


  • Aspirin will treat pain, inflammation, and reduce risk of a heart attack.
  • Nitrates can help dilate your arteries and relax artery walls.
  • L-Arginine is a dietary supplement that can prevent spasms.
  • Calcium channel blockers can reduce chest tightness by relaxing the muscles in your arteries.
  • Statins will help reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

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Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900

Coronary artery Spasm Treatment & Care

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