Recent Blog Articles

Ask the doctor: How can I keep my coronary arteries from going into painful spasms?

December 01, 2009

Q. What can be done for endothelial dysfunction that causes coronary artery spasms and requires nitroglycerin at least four times a day?

A. The endothelial cells are the flat cells that line the insides of blood vessels. Until recently, they were thought to sit passively inside blood vessels, like tiles on a floor. We now know that they play major roles in diseases as diverse as atherosclerosis, hypertension, and cancer. Endothelial cells control the tone of the muscles around the arteries in response to oxygen, blood sugar, and other metabolic variables. In this way, they regulate the size of the artery at any given moment, which determines how much blood can flow through it.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.