Influence of Serum Cholesterol and Other Coronary Risk Factors on Vasomotion of Angiographically Normal Coronary Arteries

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Abstract

Background

It has been shown that there is impairment of the vasodilatory response to acetylcholine in patients with hypercholesterolemia and angiographically normal coronary arteries. Moreover, in patients with angiographically smooth coronary arteries, the number of coronary risk factors is associated with a loss of endothelium-dependent vasodilation. The purpose of the present analysis was to evaluate in patients with and without coronary artery disease coronary vasomotor response to dynamic exercise in angiographically normal and stenosed coronary arteries and to relate the response to serum cholesterol levels as well as to other coronary risk factors.

Methods and Results

Luminal area change during exercise (delta-ex, percent change compared with rest=100%) was determined by biplane quantitative coronary arteriography in three groups: Group 1 consisted of 14 patients with normal total serum cholesterol of <200 mg/100 mL; mean, 173 mg/100 mL (mean age, 51 years). Group 2 comprised 23 patients with a slightly elevated cholesterol of 200 to 250 mg/100 mL; mean, 223 mg/100 mL (mean age, 53 years). Group 3 had 24 patients with markedly elevated cholesterol of >250 mg/100 mL; mean, 288 mg/100 mL (mean age, 54 years). Serum cholesterol levels and categorical risk factors such as positive family history, history of hypertension, smoking, obesity, and diabetes were related to exercise-induced vasomotor response. The three groups did not differ with regard to clinical characteristics, exercise work load, and hemodynamic data measured during exercise. However, delta-ex in normal vessels was significantly different between all three groups (ANOVA, P<.01): +31% (group 1), +18% (group 2), and +4% (group 3). Delta-ex in stenotic vessels did not differ between the groups: −5% (group 1), −13% (group 2), and −12% (group 3). Delta-ex of the nonstenosed vessel correlated significantly and inversely with total cholesterol, with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, with the ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and with the number of coronary risk factors present in a patient. High total cholesterol and a history of hypertension were independent risk factors for impaired coronary vasomotion.

Conclusions

In patients with and without coronary artery disease, hypercholesterolemia and a history of hypertension independently impair exercise-induced coronary vasodilation in angiographically normal coronary arteries. In the stenotic vessel, vasomotion during exercise does not appear to be influenced by the actual serum cholesterol. The precise mechanism by which the impaired vasomotion of the angiographically normal coronary arteries is mediated is unknown, but a direct negative effect of hypercholesterolemia on endothelial function or early undetected atherosclerosis appears to be the most likely explanation.

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