Angina is commonly a symptom of an underlying heart condition, usually coronary artery disease (CAD). So if you’re at risk for CAD, you’re also at risk for angina. But, you may have Prinzmetal’s Angina with or without other coronary artery disease.
If you suffer severe chest pains while at rest, and nitroglycerin tablets relieve the pain, ask your doctor about Prinzmetal’s.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels.
- High blood pressure.
- Cigarette smoking.
- Insulin resistance or diabetes.
- Overweight or obesity.
- Metabolic syndrome.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Age. (The risk increases for men after 45 years of age and for women after 55 years of age.)
- Family history of early heart disease.
You may have Prinzmetal’s Angina with none of the above risk factors present.
People sometimes think that because men have more heart attacks than women, men also suffer from angina more often. In fact, angina occurs equally among women and men. It can be a sign of heart disease, even when initial tests don’t show evidence of CAD.
Current medical thought is that Prinzmetal’s Angina is rare: that it accounts for only about 2 out of 100 cases of angina. People who have Prinzmetal’s angina are often younger than those who have other forms of angina. That would indicate that there are about 140,000 people with Prinzmetal’s Angina. We believe that figure is is grossly underestimated.
The young people who have Prinzmetal’s do not become miracululously free of it simply because they became older. A large percent of them contract various forms of coronary artery disease as they age. Then, when they suffer the chest pains, their cardiologists discover the easily dianosed forms of angina without suspecting that Prinzmetal’s is also present. Of the estimated 7 million people who have angina, and the 140,000 who have been diagnosed with Prinzmetal’s, how many have both?