Of 132 consecutive patients hospitalized during a 5 year period because of active variant angina, 18 died or had a myocardial infarction within 1 month. In 4 patients an episode of pain and S-T elevation unrelieved by calcium antagonist drugs and intravenous nitroglycerin persisted for more than 1 hour, inducing cardiogenic shock and death before the appearance of Q waves and elevated serum enzyme levels. In the other 14 patients myocardial infarction developed in the electrocardiographic leads in which S-T elevation had occurred during attacks of variant angina. Clinical features were not helpful in distinguishing the 18 patients with complications from the other 114. Angina at rest had been present for less than 1 month in 7 of the 18 patients with infarction compared with 31 of 114 in the other group (probability [p] not significant [NS]). Before infarction the artery presumed to be perfusing the involved territory contained a fixed stenosis of 70 percent or more of luminal diameter in 8 of the 14 patients with complications who had coronary arteriograms compared with 50 of 112 in the other group (p = NS). In 13 of the 18 patients, complications occurred in spite of large doses of calcium antagonist drugs. In 11 of these 13, attacks of variant angina were monitored for 3 to 17 days both before and during treatment. All 11 had fewer attacks with treatment and 5 had no attacks. Daily attacks per patient decreased from 4.6 ± 4.3 to 0.5 ± 0.7 (mean ± standard deviation) (p < 0.01). It is concluded that in variant angina of recent onset myocardial infarction occurs frequently and unpredictably. Myocardial infarction may occur in the absence of severe fixed lesions and in spite of apparent clinical improvement with administration of calcium antagonist drugs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine