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July 24, 1981

The Spectrum of Coronary Artery SpasmThe Variable Variant

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

JAMA. 1981;246(4):354-359. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320040026024

Angina from coronary artery spasm is not rare. Because new and effective medical therapy is now available, it is imperative that the physician recognize this syndrome when it occurs. Coronary artery spasm can present clinically as unstable rest angina with reversible ST-segment elevation and bradyarrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias. In this setting, Prinzmetal's variant angina is generally promptly recognized and appropriately treated. The diagnosis of variant angina, however, often is not so obvious. Chest pain may be exertional or seem noncardiac in origin. The chest pain syndrome may be chronic and stable as well as unstable. The ECG may show ST-segment depression, rather than elevation. Five cases of coronary artery spasm that emphasize the variable features of variant angina and offer aid for the prompt diagnosis and treatment of the syndrome are presented here.

(JAMA 1981;246:354-359)