Category: Research

Research

Untangling the pathophysiologic link between coronary microvascular dysfunction and heart...

Coronary microvascular disease (CMD), characterized by impaired coronary flow reserve (CFR), is a common finding in patients with stable angina. Impaired CFR, in the absence of obstructive coronary artery disease, is also present in up to 75% of patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is a heterogeneous syndrome comprising distinct endotypes and it has been hypothesized that CMD lies at the centre of the pathogenesis of one such entity: the CMD–HFpEF endotype. This article provides a contemporary review of the pathophysiology underlying CMD, with a focus on the mechanistic link between CMD and HFpEF.

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Research

What an Interventionalist Needs to Know About MI with Non-obstructive...

MI with non-obstructive coronary arteries (MINOCA) is caused by a heterogeneous group of vascular or myocardial disorders. MINOCA occurs in 5–15% of patients presenting with acute ST-segment elevation MI or non-ST segment elevation MI and prognosis is impaired.

The diagnosis of MINOCA is made during coronary angiography following acute MI, where there is no stenosis ≥50% present in an infarct-related epicardial artery and no overt systemic aetiology for the presentation. Accurate diagnosis and subsequent management require the appropriate utilisation of intravascular imaging, coronary function testing and subsequent imaging to assess for myocardial disorders without coronary involvement.

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Research

Microvascular Angina: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment

In patients with angina symptoms but with no coronary artery disease, as revealed by normal or near-normal coronary angiogram, a potential diagnosis of microvascular angina (MVA) might be considered.

This review examines the evidence on long-term prognosis, state-of-the-art assessment and treatment strategies, and the overwhelming need for standardisation of diagnostic pathways in this patient population. The rising clinical relevance of MVA is explored along with how the absence of obstructive coronary artery disease on coronary angiography may not be a guarantee of benign prognosis in this patient subgroup.

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Research

1-Year Outcomes of Angina Management Guided by Invasive Coronary Function...

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that invasive coronary function testing at time of angiography could help stratify management of angina patients without obstructive coronary artery disease. Medical therapy for angina guided by invasive coronary vascular function testing holds promise, but the longer-term effects on quality of life and clinical events are unknown among patients without obstructive disease.

A total of 151 patients with angina with symptoms and/or signs of ischemia and no obstructive coronary artery disease were randomized to stratified medical therapy guided by an interventional diagnostic procedure versus standard care (control group with blinded interventional diagnostic procedure results).

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Research

How to Diagnose and Manage Angina Without Obstructive Coronary Artery...

Patients with symptoms and/or signs of ischaemia but no obstructive coronary artery disease (INOCA) present a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Microvascular and/or vasospastic angina are the two most common causes of INOCA; however, invasive coronary angiography lacks the sensitivity to diagnose these functional coronary disorders.

In this article, the authors summarise the rationale for invasive testing in the absence of obstructive coronary disease, namely that correct treatment for angina patients starts with the correct diagnosis. They provide insights from the CORonary MICrovascular Angina (CorMicA) study, where an interventional diagnostic procedure was performed with linked medical therapy to improve patient health.

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Research

Vasospastic angina: A literature review of current evidence

Vasospastic angina (VSA) is a variant form of angina pectoris, in which angina occurs at rest, with transient electrocardiogram modifications and preserved exercise capacity. VSA can be involved in many clinical scenarios, such as stable angina, sudden cardiac death, acute coronary syndrome, arrhythmia or syncope.

Coronary vasospasm is a heterogeneous phenomenon that can occur in patients with or without coronary atherosclerosis, can be focal or diffuse, and can affect epicardial or microvasculature coronary arteries. This disease remains underdiagnosed, and provocative tests are rarely performed.

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Research

Coronary microvascular dysfunction in stable ischaemic heart disease

Diffuse and focal epicardial coronary disease and coronary microvascular abnormalities may exist side-by-side. Identifying the contributions of each of these three players in the coronary circulation is a difficult task.

Yet identifying coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD) as an additional player in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) may provide explanations of why symptoms may persist frequently following and why global coronary flow reserve may be more prognostically important than fractional flow reserve measured in a single vessel before percutaneous coronary intervention.

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Research

Interplay Between Myocardial Bridging and Coronary Spasm in Patients With...

Myocardial bridging (MB) may represent a cause of myocardial ischemia in patients with non‐obstructive coronary artery disease (NOCAD). Herein, we assessed the interplay between MB and coronary vasomotor disorders, also evaluating their prognostic relevance in patients with myocardial infarction and non‐obstructive coronary arteries (MINOCA) or stable NOCAD.

We prospectively enrolled patients with NOCAD undergoing intracoronary acetylcholine provocative test. The incidence of major adverse cardiac events, defined as the composite of cardiac death, non‐fatal myocardial infarction, and rehospitalization for unstable angina, was assessed at follow‐up.

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Research

Small vessel disease

Small vessel disease is a condition in which the walls of the small arteries in the heart are damaged. The condition causes signs and symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain (angina).

Small vessel disease is sometimes called coronary microvascular disease or small vessel heart disease. It’s often diagnosed after a doctor finds little or no narrowing in the main arteries of your heart, despite your having symptoms that suggest heart disease.

Small vessel disease is more common in women and in people who have diabetes or high blood pressure. The condition is treatable but can be difficult to detect.

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Research

Treatment of coronary microvascular dysfunction

Contemporary data indicate that patients with signs and symptoms of ischaemia and non-obstructive coronary artery disease (INOCA) often have coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD) with elevated risk for adverse outcomes. Coronary endothelial (constriction with acetylcholine) and/or microvascular (limited coronary flow reserve with adenosine) dysfunction are well-documented, and extensive non-obstructive atherosclerosis is often present.

Despite these data, patients with INOCA currently remain under-treated, in part, because existing management guidelines do not address this large, mostly female population due to the absence of evidence-based data.

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Research

Testing for Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction

The small blood vessels in the heart, called the coronary microvasculature, carry most of the blood flow to the heart muscle, delivering oxygen. These blood vessels can become unhealthy when there is damage to their inner lining. There can also be plaque buildup in the larger coronary arteries that does not narrow them but can contribute to abnormal blood flow.

Over time, this leads to abnormal widening or narrowing of the small vessels in response to exercise or stress, which can cause problems with the blood supply to the heart, causing chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack, and heart failure.

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Research

Reappraisal of Ischemic Heart Disease

In recent years, it has become apparent that coronary microvascular dysfunction plays a pivotal pathogenic role in angina pectoris. Functional and structural mechanisms can affect the physiological function of the coronary microvasculature and lead to myocardial ischemia in people without coronary atheromatous disease and also in individuals with obstructive coronary artery disease.

Abnormal dilatory responses of the coronary microvessels, coronary microvascular spasm, and extravascular compressive forces have been identified as pathogenic mechanisms in both chronic and acute forms of ischemic heart disease.

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Around The World

Real Patient Stories

Dima’s story

March 3rd, 2021 was the day that changed everything. At 55, I had a busy counselling practice and a few other projects on the go. The pandemic was causing anxiety for many of my clients and in my private life. I had a lot of stress of my own: there were safety issues in the building where I lived, and I was looking for a new apartment. Despite this, I thought I was handling it well. I was fairly healthy, I walked daily, ate well, meditated and didn’t smoke or drink.

I started to experience heavy fatigue towards the end of 2020 but told myself it was normal considering all that was going on in the world.

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MaryAnn’s story

When I was 39, with zero risk factors for heart disease, I had all the classic symptoms associated with a heart attack. My doctors put me on three blood thinners to dissolve a clot in a minor artery seen in an angiogram. The next day, while the original clot had dissolved, I had a clot in a larger artery. Baffled, the cardiologists put in a stent. As they backed the scope out of the artery, it spasmed in another location.

At that time, I had a 4-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 12-year-old. My husband traveled extensively for work. I asked myself two questions: 1) How do I feel about dying at age 39? 2) If I don’t die, how do I live?

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Sandra’s story

My story began in January 2010, while sitting at a traffic light returning to the office. I was working as a home health physical therapist. I began having chest pain out of nowhere. I got to my office and my boss, an RN, asked me if I was OK. I told her about the chest pain. By then it was starting to progress down my left arm. She took my blood pressure, normally 98/68. It was 140/90. She called my husband and told him to meet me at the ER. I drove myself there. They ran the normal tests and diagnosed me with costochondritis. Pain meds made the symptoms go away. The pain came back six times in the next 6 months. I asked for a cardiologist referral, but was denied, due to my age (39), lack of family history, and being in shape.

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