Coronary Spasm Preferentially Occurs at Branch Points: An Angiographic Comparison With Atherosclerotic Plaque

H Nakagawa, Y Morikawa, Y Mizuno, E Harada, T Ito, K Matsui, Y Saito and H. Yasue

Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, 2009, 2(2), 97-104. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCINTERVENTIONS.108.803767

Abstract

Background— Coronary spasm plays an important role in the pathogenesis of ischemic heart disease. However, similarities and differences between coronary spasm and atherosclerosis are not known. We examined the angiographic characteristics of coronary spasm in comparison with those of atherosclerosis.

Methods and Results— Thirty-two left anterior descending arteries, 11 left circumflex arteries, and 23 right coronary arteries with spasm and atherosclerotic plaque were analyzed for the localization of spasm in comparison with that of plaque in 47 patients (38 men and 9 women, mean age 66.8±10.3 yrs). Spasm predominantly occurred at the branch point as compared with plaque in each of the 3 arteries (76.7% versus 23.3%, P<0.0001; 72.7% versus 9.1%, P<0.039; and 60.0% versus 10.0%, P=0.002, in the left anterior descending, left circumflex, and right coronary arteries, respectively). Spasm involved the proximal segment less frequently as compared with plaque in each of the 3 arteries (56.7% versus 93.3%, P<0.0001; 18.2% versus 81.8%, P=0.016; and 15.0% versus 75.0%, P<0.0001 in the left anterior descending, left circumflex, and right coronary arteries, respectively). Most spasms occurred at the nonplaque site in each of the 3 arteries (73.3%, P=0.018; 100%, P<0.0001; and 75.0%, P=0.041 in the left anterior descending, left circumflex, and right coronary arteries, respectively).

Conclusion— Coronary spasm preferentially occurred at branch points and nonplaque sites, whereas the atherosclerotic lesion was predominantly localized at the nonbranch points of the curved proximal segments. Coronary spasm may thus be a manifestation of a distinct type of arteriosclerosis different from the lipid-laden coronary atherosclerosis.

ASCI-ID: 1438-10