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Supersensitivity of coronary arteries in variant angina to spasm induced by intracoronary acetylcholine

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      Abstract

      Acetylcholine (20 to 100 μg) was infused directly into coronary arteries in 10 patients with variant angina (group A), 13 subjects without coronary artery disease (group B) and 8 patients with significant organic coronary artery stenosis (≥50%) but without variant angina (group C) during coronary arteriography, to clarify the action of this agent on coronary arteries. Temporary pacing was performed at a demand heart rate of 40 beats/min white bradyarrhythmia developed. Coronary arteriography after administration of acetyleholine showed coronary vasoconstriction in all 10 patients (100%) of group A. Angina accompanied by etectrocardiographic ischemic changes in 9 of 10 (90%, 7 ST-segment elevation and 2 depression) was provoked during this test. In the patients of group B, acetylcholine also induced vasoconstriction in 8 of 22 (36%) coronary arterial systems examined, chest pain in 3 (14%) and ST-segment deviation in none (0%). In the patients of group C, acetylcholine induced vasoconstriction in 3 of 9 (33%), chest pain in 2 (22%) and ST-segment depression in 1 (11%). No definite coronary artery dilation induced by acetylcholine was noted. Coronary vasoconstriction (p < 0.05), etectrocardiographic ischemic findings (p < 0.01) and chest pain (p < 0.01) were induced significantly more frequently in group A than in both groups B and group C. No significant difference was found between group B and group C. The coronary arteries in the patients with variant angina seem to be more susceptible to acetylcholine than those of patients without variant angina irrespective of the presence of significant atherosclerosis.
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