What cardiac condition can feel like a heart attack?


It’s not a heart attack but it can feel like one.

Prinzmetal Angina is something many of us have probably never heard of before.

It’s not a heart attack but it can cause serious damage to the heart muscle if not diagnosed and treated and doctors are not sure exactly what causes it.

For Deb Utterbaugh, even simple things, like a family card game are not something to take for granted.

Two years ago, Deb woke up feeling nauseous and knew something was terribly wrong.

Deb Utterbaugh says, ” I texted my husband. Who knows what I texted him, because he came running up the stairs and I must have passed out.”

“She had the blank stare. She turned ash grey. It lives in my mind to this day. It’s something I’ve never seen before, ” says Barry Utterbaugh, Deb’s husband.

Deb was suffering the first of what would be four heart attacks in two years.

Tests showed no blockage, and no signs of heart disease in this otherwise, fit and healthy, then 48-year-old.

Doctors diagnosed her with Prinzmetal Angina. Her pain was caused by coronary artery spasms.

Peter Reyes, MD, cardiologist, says, “the muscles will contract constricting these arteries and then limiting blood flow to the muscle that it supplies.”

Deb Utterbaugh continues, “my arteries go into spasm and on me, my body wants to twist them, cut off the blood supply, and I usually lose consciousness when that happens.”

Deb keeps the spasms at bay with a cocktail of medications.

While it’s not something she wished for, Deb says her condition has made her family closer.

“I’ve learned to appreciate my kids in a different way,” says Deb Utterbaugh.

Signs include tightness in the chest, pressure, shortness of breath, sweating or palpitations. And usually happens when a person is at rest.

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