Prinzmetal's or Prinzmetal Angina, Variant Angina and Angina Inversa

Unlike typical angina – which is often triggered by exertion or emotional stress – Prinzmetal’s angina almost always occurs when a person is at rest, usually between midnight and early morning. These attacks can be very painful.

Prinzmetal angina may also be referred to as:

  • Variant angina
  • Prinzmetal's variant angina
  • Angina inversa

See an illustration of angina.


The pain from variant angina is caused by a spasm in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle.

The coronary arteries can spasm because of:


The pain/discomfort:

  • Usually occurs while resting and during the night or early morning.
  • Is usually severe.
  • Can be relieved by taking medication.


Medicines can help control the spasms. Drugs such as calcium channel blockers and nitrates are the mainstays of treatment.

Prinzmetal's angina is a chronic condition that will need to be followed by your health care team even though the prognosis is generally good.

Track your angina symptoms with our Angina Log.

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