In patients with variant angina, previous data have been inconclusive as to whether basal coronary artery tone is elevated at the spastic and non-spastic sites. Thus, the purpose of this study was to assess the basal coronary artery tone and the responsiveness to acetylcholine(Ach) and ergonovine(Erg) in patients with variant angina. We compared the basal coronary artery tone and the constrictive responses to Ach and Erg between 31 patients(Group 1) with variant angina in whom spasm was provoked by the low doses of Ach(intracoronary 20ug) or Erg(intravenous 50ug) and 35 patients(Group 2) provoked by higher doses of Ach(intracoronary 100ug) or Erg(intravenous cumulative dose of 350ug), and 26 control subjects. Patients with variant angina in whom spasm was provoked by low doses of Ach or Erg, had a higher incidence of mixed disease, multi-vessel spasm and higher disease activity. The basal coronary artery tone at the spastic and nonspastic sites of spasm related artery was significantly more elevated in Group 1 than that in Group 2(44±17 vs 14±11 % and 26±14 vs 16±10 % respectively, P<0.05), but not in the nonspasm related artery, The magnitudes of vasoconstrictive responses to Ach and Erg at the nonspastic sites were also greater in Group 1 than those in Group 2 and the control groups(Ach; 40±20 vs 26±11, 27± 12%:Erg; 37±18 vs 12±8, 13±10% respectively, P<0.05). However, the basal coronary artery tone was not elevated at the spastic and nonspastic sites in Group 2 compared to the in control subjects. These findings suggest that the basal coronary artery tone is increased in patients with variant angina with higher disease activity at the spastic sites and nonspastic sites of the spasm-related artery, and this may be related to the occurrence of coronary artery spasm.
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