Background: An association between atherosclerosis and coronary vasospasm has previously been suggested. However, to date, no conclusive data on the whole spectrum of these disorders have been published.
Aims: This study aims to define specific morphological features of atherosclerosis in patients with angina and no obstructive coronary artery disease (ANOCA) due to coronary vasospasm.
Methods: From February 2019 to January 2020, we enrolled 75 patients referred to our laboratory for a coronary function test (CFT) due to ANOCA and suspected coronary vasomotor dysfunction. CFT consisted of an acetylcholine test and a physiology assessment with hyperaemic indexes using adenosine. Patients were divided into two groups, according to the presence or absence of coronary vasospasm triggered by acetylcholine (ACH+ and ACH-, respectively). In addition, optical coherence tomography (OCT) was performed to assess the lipid index (LI), a surrogate for lipid area, and the prevalence of markers of plaque vulnerability.
Results: ACH+ patients had a higher LI than ACH- patients (LI: 819.85 [460.95-2489.03] versus 269.95 [243.50-878.05], respectively, p=0.03), and a higher prevalence of vulnerable plaques (66% vs 38%, p=0.04). Moreover, ACH+ patients showed a higher prevalence of neovascularisation compared to ACH- subjects (37% vs 6%, p=0.02) and a trend towards a higher prevalence of all individual markers, in particular thin-cap fibroatheroma (20% vs 0%, p=0.06). No differences were detected between patterns of coronary vasospasm.
Conclusions: The presence of coronary vasospasm, regardless of its phenotype, is associated with higher lipid burden, plaque vulnerability and neovascularisation.
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