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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1989 Nov 15;14(6):1456-63.

Spontaneous coronary artery spasm in variant angina is caused by a local hyperreactivity to a generalized constrictor stimulus.

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Cardiovascular Research Unit, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, England.


To assess whether spontaneous coronary artery spasm in patients with variant angina results from local coronary hyperreactivity to a generalized constrictor stimulus or from a stimulus generated only at the site of the hyperreactive segment, the behavior of spastic and nonspastic coronary segments was studied in six patients with variant angina in whom focal coronary spasm developed spontaneously during cardiac catheterization. None of the patients had critical (greater than 50% luminal diameter reduction) organic coronary stenoses. Coronary diameters were measured by computerized quantitative arteriography during control, spontaneous spasm and ergonovine-induced spasm and after intracoronary nitrates were given. During spontaneous spasm, the luminal diameter of spastic and both proximal and distal nonspastic coronary segments was significantly reduced from control values, 64.2%, 13.2% and 14.8%, respectively. Average diameter reduction of unrelated arteries was 12.3%. Ergonovine, which was also administered to four patients, provoked focal spasm at the same site as spontaneous spasm. During intravenous ergonovine, luminal diameter of spastic segments was reduced by 91.5%, that of nonspastic proximal segments by 17.8% and that of nonspastic distal segments by 11.5%. Luminal diameter of unrelated arteries during ergonovine-induced spasm was reduced by 17.7%. Constriction of spastic segments was greater during ergonovine-induced spasm (p less than 0.05), whereas the extent of diameter reduction of nonspastic segments was not significantly different during spontaneous spasm and ergonovine-induced spasm. Intracoronary isosorbide dinitrate dilated spastic and nonspastic coronary segments to a similar extent from control (20.7%, 18% and 16.5%, respectively; p = NS).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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