Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction in Patients With Microvascular Angina: Analysis by TIMI Frame Count

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We have previously reported that angina pectoris persists in patients with coronary microvascular spasm (MVS) even on calcium channel blockers. Because measurement of myocardial lactate production in the coronary sinus is necessary to diagnose MVS, a more feasible diagnostic method needs to be developed. In this study, we examined the diagnostic significance of Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) frame count, a marker of coronary blood flow, in 131 consecutive patients who underwent provocation test for coronary spasm with acetylcholine (ACh). Epicardial coronary spasm (ES) was diagnosed as more than 75% of ACh-induced vasoconstriction noted by coronary angiography. MVS was diagnosed as ACh-induced myocardial ischemia (chest pain, ischemic ECG changes, and myocardial lactate production) without ES. TIMI frame count was significantly increased in patients with MVS alone (n = 35) and those with ES + MVS (n = 16) compared with those with ES alone (n = 53) or those with no myocardial ischemia (Normal, n = 27) either before and after intracoronary ACh and even after intracoronary isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN) in both the left anterior descending (LAD) and the left circumflex coronary artery (LCX). TIMI frame count in LAD correlated well to that in LCX in patients with MVS, suggesting diffuse impaired coronary microcirculation in the myocardium. These results suggest that increased TIMI frame count in response to ACh reflects microvascular dysfunction in MVS and that ISDN may not be enough to relieve MVS. Thus, TIMI frame count may be useful to diagnose MVS without requiring coronary sinus catheterization or myocardial lactate production measurement.

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