Thirteen patients with Prinzmetal's variant angina performed treadmill exercise tests in the early morning in the afternoon of the same day. The attacks with ST elevation were induced repeatedly in all 13 patients in the early morning, but in only two patients in the afternoon.
Propranolol did not suppress the exercise-induced attacks in all 13 patients. Diltiazem suppressed the attacks in all 13 patients phentolamine in eight of the nine patients.
Coronary arteriograms demonstrated that spasm occluding completely or almost completely the large coronary artery supplying the area of myocardium showing ST elevation appeared during the attacks disappeared along with the attacks after nitroglycerin administration in all four patients in whom the attacks were induced by arm exercise in the catheterization laboratory.
We conclude that there is circadian variation of exercise capacity in patients with Prinzmetal's variant angina caused by coronary arterial spasm induced by exercise in the early morning but not in the afternoon.