Microvascular coronary dysfunction (MCD) is an increasingly recognized cause of cardiac ischemia and angina, more commonly diagnosed in women. Patients with MCD present with the triad of persistent chest pain, ischemic changes on stress testing, and no obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) on cardiac catheterization. Data from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-sponsored Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study has shown that the diagnosis of MCD is not benign, with a 2.5% annual risk of adverse cardiac events including myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, or death. The gold standard diagnostic test for MCD is an invasive coronary reactivity test (CRT), which uses acetylcholine, adenosine, and nitroglycerin to test the endothelial dependent and independent, microvascular and macrovascular coronary function. The CRT allows for diagnostic and treatment options as well as further risk stratifying patients for future cardiovascular events. Treatment of angina and MCD should be aimed at ischemia disease management to reduce risk of adverse cardiac events, ameliorating symptoms to improve quality of life, and to decrease the morbidity from unnecessary and repeated cardiac catheterization in patients with open coronary arteries. A comprehensive treatment approach aimed at risk factor managment, including lifestyle counseling regarding smoking cessation, nutrition and physical activity should be initiated. Current pharmacotherapy for MCD can include the treatment of microvascular endothelial dysfunction (statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, low dose aspirin), as well as treatment for angina and myocardial ischemia (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitrates, ranolazine). Additional symptom management techniques can include tri-cyclic medication, enhanced external counterpulsation, autogenic training, and spinal cord stimulation. While our current therapies are effective in the treatment of angina and MCD, large randomized outcome trials are needed to optimize strategies to improve morbidity and mortality.
Women exhibit a greater symptom burden, more functional disability, and a higher prevalence of no obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to men when evaluated for signs and symptoms of myocardial ischemia. Microvascular Coronary Dysfunction (MCD) defined as limited coronary flow reserve (CFR) and/or coronary endothelial dysfunction is the predominant etiological mechanism of ischemia in women with the triad of persistent chest pain, no obstructive CAD, and ischemia evidenced by stress testing. Evidence shows that approximately 50% of these patients have physiologic evidence of MCD. MCD is associated with a 2.5% annual major adverse event rate that includes death, nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke and congestive heart failure. Although tests such as adenosine stress cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI) may be a useful non-invasive method to predict subendocardial ischemia, the gold standard test to diagnose MCD is an invasive Coronary Reactivity Testing (CRT). Early identification of MCD by CRT may be beneficial in prognostication and stratifying these patients for optimal medical therapy. Currently, understanding of MCD pathophysiology can be used to guide diagnosis and therapy. Continued research in MCD is needed to further advance our understanding.
Anginal chest pain is one of the most common complaints in the outpatient setting. While much of the focus has been on identifying obstructive atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) as the cause of anginal chest pain, it is clear that microvascular coronary dysfunction (MCD) can also cause anginal chest pain as a manifestation of ischemic heart disease (IHD), and carries an increased cardiovascular risk. Epicardial coronary vasospasm, aortic stenosis, left ventricular hypertrophy, congenital coronary anomalies, mitral valve prolapse and abnormal cardiac nociception can also present as angina of cardiac origin. For non-acute coronary syndrome (ACS) stable chest pain, exercise treadmill testing (ETT) remains the primary tool for diagnosis of ischemia and cardiac risk stratification; however, in certain subsets of patients, such as women, ETT has a lower sensitivity and specificity for identifying obstructive CAD. When combined with an imaging modality, such as nuclear perfusion or echocardiography testing, the sensitivity and specificity of stress testing for detection of obstructive CAD improves significantly. Advancements in stress cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) enables detection of perfusion abnormalities in a specific coronary artery territory, as well as subendocardial ischemia associated with MCD. Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) enables visual assessment of obstructive CAD, albeit with a higher radiation dose. Invasive coronary angiography (CA) remains the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment of obstructive lesions that cause medically refractory stable angina. Furthermore, in patients with normal coronary angiograms, the addition of coronary reactivity testing (CRT) can help diagnose endothelial dependent and independent microvascular dysfunction. Life-style modification and pharmacologic intervention remains the cornerstone of therapy to reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with stable angina. This review focuses on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of stable, non-ACS anginal chest pain.
chronic stable angina; chest pain; stress testing; atherosclerosis; microvascular angina
Evolving knowledge regarding sex differences in coronary heart disease (CHD) is emerging. Given the lower burden of obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) and preserved systolic function in women contrasted by higher rates of myocardial ischemia and near-term mortality compared to men, we propose the term ischemic heart disease (IHD) as appropriate for this discussion specific to women, rather than CAD or CHD. This paradoxical difference where women have lower rates of anatomical CAD but more symptoms, ischemia, and outcomes appear linked to coronary reactivity which includes microvascular dysfunction. Novel risk factors can improve the Framingham risk score, including inflammatory markers and reproductive hormones, as well as noninvasive imaging and functional capacity measurements. Risk for women with obstructive CAD is elevated compared to men, yet women are less likely to receive guideline-indicated therapies. In the setting of non-ST elevation acute myocardial infarction, interventional strategies are equally effective in biomarker positive women and men, while conservative management is indicated for biomarker negative women. For women with evidence of ischemia but no obstructive CAD, anti-anginal and anti-ischemic therapies can improve symptoms, endothelial function, and quality of life; however trials evaluating adverse outcomes are needed. We hypothesize that women experience more adverse outcomes compared to men because obstructive CAD remains the current focus of therapeutic strategies. Continued research is indicated to devise therapeutic regimens to improve symptom burden and reduce risk in women with IHD.
Ischemic Heart Disease; Sex Differences; Women
In women with ischemia and no obstructive coronary artery disease, the Women's Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) observed that microvascular coronary dysfunction (MCD) is the best independent predictor of adverse cardiovascular events. Since coronary microvascular tone is regulated in part by endothelium, we hypothesized that circulating endothelial cells (CEC), which reflect endothelial injury, and the number and function of bone-marrow derived angiogenic cells (BMDAC), which could help repair damaged endothelium, may serve as biomarkers for decreased coronary flow reserve (CFR) and MCD.
We studied 32 women from the WISE cohort. CFR measurements in response to intracoronary adenosine were taken as an index of MCD. We enumerated BMDAC colonies and CEC in peripheral blood samples. BMDAC function was assessed by assay of migration of CD34+ cells toward SDF-1 and measurement of bioavailable nitric oxide (NO). These findings were compared with a healthy reference group and also entered into a multivariable model with CFR as the dependent variable.
Compared with a healthy reference group, women with MCD had lower numbers of BMDAC colonies [16 (0, 81) vs. 24 (14, 88); P = 0.01] and NO [936 (156, 1875) vs. 1168 (668, 1823); P = 0.02]. Multivariable regression analysis showed strong correlation of CFR to the combination of BMDAC colony count and CD34+ cell function (migration and NO) (R2 = 0.45; P<0.05).
The BMDAC function and numbers of BMDAC colonies are decreased in symptomatic women with MCD and are independently associated with CFR. These circulating cells may provide mechanistic insights into MCD in women with ischemia.
To introduce an algorithmic approach to improve the interpretation of myocardial perfusion images in women with suspected myocardial ischemia.
Gated single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and magnetic resonance (MR) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) approaches have relatively poor diagnostic and prognostic value in women with suspected myocardial ischemia. Here we introduce an approach: Decisions Informed by Combining Entities (DICE) that forms a mathematical model utilizing MPI and cardiac dimensions generated by one modality to predict the perfusion status of another modality. The effect of the model is to systematically incorporate cardiac metrics that influence the interpretation of perfusion images, leading to greater consistency in designation of myocardial perfusion status between studies.
Women (n=213), with suspected myocardial ischemia, underwent MPI assessment for regional perfusion defects using two modalities: gated SPECT (n=207) and MR imaging (n=203). To determine perfusion status, MR data were evaluated qualitatively and semi-quantitatively while SPECT data were evaluated using conventional clinical criteria. These perfusion status readings were designated “Original”. Four regression models were generated to model perfusion status obtained with one modality [e.g., semi-quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)] against another modality (e.g., SPECT) and a threshold applied (DICE modeling) to designate perfusion status as normal or low. The DICE models included perfusion status, left ventricular (LV) chamber volumes and myocardial wall thickness. Women were followed for 40±16 months for the development of first major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE: CV death, nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI) or hospitalization for congestive heart failure). Original and DICE perfusion status were compared in their ability to detect high-grade coronary artery disease (CAD) and for prediction of MACE.
Adverse events occurred in 25 (12%) women and CAD was present in 34 (16%). In receiver-operator characteristic (ROC) analysis for CAD detection, the average area under the curve (AUC) for DICE vs. Original status was 0.77±0.03 vs. 0.70±0.03, P<0.01. Similarly, in Kaplan-Meier survival analysis the average log-rank statistic was higher for DICE vs. the Original readings (10.6±5.2 vs. 3.0±0.6, P<0.05).
While two data sets are required to generate the DICE models no knowledge of follow-up results is needed. DICE modeling improved diagnostic and prognostic value vs. the Original interpretation of the myocardial perfusion status.
Modeling; prognosis; diagnosis; perfusion; imaging; women
Pulsatile wave reflections augment central aortic systolic blood pressure (BP) and increase systolic pressure time integral (SPTI) thereby increasing left ventricular (LV) afterload and myocardial oxygen (MVO2) demand. When increased, such changes may contribute to myocardial ischemia and angina pectoris, especially when aortic diastolic time is decreased and myocardial perfusion pressure jeopardized. Accordingly, we examined pulse wave reflection characteristics and diastolic timing in a subgroup of women with chest pain (WISE) and no obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD).
Radial artery BP waveforms were recorded by applanation tonometry, and aortic BP waveforms derived. Data from WISE participants were compared with data from asymptomatic women (reference group) without chest pain matched for age, height, body mass index (BMI), mean arterial BP and heart rate (HR).
Compared with the reference group, WISE participants had higher aortic systolic and pulse BP and ejection duration (ED). These differences were associated with an increase in, augmentation index (AIx), and reflected pressure wave systolic duration. These modifications in wave reflection characteristics were associated with an increase in SPTI and wasted LV energy (Ew) and a decrease in pulse pressure amplification, myocardial viability ratio, and diastolic pressure time fraction (DPTF).
WISE participants with no obstructive CAD have changes in systolic wave reflections and diastolic timing that increase LV afterload, MVO2 demand, and Ew with the potential to reduce coronary artery perfusion. These alterations in cardiovascular function contribute to an undesirable mismatch in the MVO2 supply/demand that promotes ischemia and chest pain and may contribute to, or increase the severity of, future adverse cardiovascular events.
wave reflection; augmentation index; central aortic pressure; wasted LV energy; WISE study
To assess the prognostic value of a left ventricular energy-model in women with suspected myocardial ischemia.
The prognostic value of internal energy utilization (IEU) of the left ventricle in women with suspected myocardial ischemia is unknown.
Women (n=227, mean age 59±12 years, range 31-86), with symptoms of myocardial ischemia, underwent myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) assessment for regional perfusion defects along with measurement of ventricular volumes separately by gated Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) (n= 207) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (n=203). During follow-up (40±17 months), time to first major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE, death, myocardial infarction or hospitalization for congestive heart failure) was analyzed using MRI and gated SPECT variables.
Adverse events occurred in 31 (14%). Multivariable Cox models were formed for each modality: IEU and wall thickness by MRI (Chi-squared 34, p<0.005) and IEU and systolic blood pressure by gated SEPCT (Chi-squared 34, p<0.005). The models remained predictive after adjustment for age, disease history and Framingham risk score. For each Cox model, patients were categorized as high-risk if the model hazard was positive and not high-risk otherwise. Kaplan-Meier analysis of time to MACE was performed for high-risk vs. not high-risk for MR (log rank 25.3, p<0.001) and gated SEPCT (log rank 18.2, p<001) models.
Among women with suspected myocardial ischemia a high internal energy utilization has higher prognostic value than either a low EF or the presence of a myocardial perfusion defect assessed using two independent modalities of MR or gated SPECT.
MRI Scans; SPECT; Hypertension; Myocardial Ischemia
A prolonged QT interval is a marker for an increased risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Both endogenous and exogenous sex hormones have been shown to affect the QT interval. Endogenous testosterone and progesterone shorten the action potential, and estrogen lengthens the QT interval. During a single menstrual cycle, progesterone levels, but not estrogen levels, have the dominant effect on ventricular repolarization in women. Studies of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) in the form of estrogen-alone therapy (ET) and estrogen plus progesterone therapy (EPT) have suggested a counterbalancing effect of exogenous estrogen and progesterone on the QT. Specifically, ET lengthens the QT, whereas EPT has no effect. To date, there are no studies on oral contraception (OC) and the QT interval, and future research is needed. This review outlines the current literature on sex hormones and QT interval, including the endogenous effects of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and the exogenous effects of estrogen and progesterone therapy in the forms of MHT and hormone contraception. Further, we review the potential mechanisms and pathophysiology of sex hormones on the QT interval.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) portends a higher risk of coronary heart disease mortality in women compared to men. This relationship appears to be independent of traditional cardiac risk factors and the role of reproductive hormones has been postulated. We assessed the relationship between DM, Hypothalamic hypoestrogenemia (HHE), angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD) and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) over a median 5.9 years in premenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study. We evaluated 95 premenopausal WISE women who underwent coronary angiography for suspected ischemia and were not taking exogenous reproductive hormones. Results showed that there was no difference in age between women with (n=30) and without (n=65) DM (43±6 yrs). DM was associated with hypertension, HHE, angiographic CAD and coronary artery severity score (CSS) (all p<0.05). Women with DM were twice as likely to have HHE (50% vs. 26% p=0.02) compared to women without DM. Presence of both DM and HHE was associated with increased prevalence (40% vs. 12% or 13%, p=0.006) and severity of angiographic coronary artery disease (CSS 19.9 (19.2) vs. 7.7 (4.6) or 12.3 (18.8), p=0.008) as compared to either HHE or DM alone, respectively. DM was moderately predictive of MACE. In conclusion, among premenopausal women undergoing coronary angiography for suspected myocardial ischemia, DM is associated with HHE. Presence of both DM and HHE predicts greater burden of angiographic CAD. Prospective research is warranted to better understand causal relationships between DM, endogenous hormones, and MACE in premenopausal women.
An increased risk of breast cancer is associated with alcohol consumption; however, it is controversial whether red wine increases this risk. Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) prevent the conversion of androgens to estrogen and occur naturally in grapes, grape juice, and red, but not white wine. We tested whether red wine is a nutritional AI in premenopausal women.
In a cross-over design, 36 women (mean age [SD], 36  years) were assigned to 8 ounces (237 mL) of red wine daily then white wine for 1 month each, or the reverse. Blood was collected twice during the menstrual cycle for measurement of estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), androstenedione (A), total and free testosterone (T), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
Red wine demonstrated higher free T vs. white wine (mean difference 0.64 pg/mL [0.2 SE], p=0.009) and lower SHBG (mean difference −5.0 nmol/L [1.9 SE], p=0.007). E2 levels were lower in red vs. white wine but not statistically significant. LH was significantly higher in red vs. white wine (mean difference 2.3 mIU/mL [1.3 SE], p=0.027); however, FSH was not.
Red wine is associated with significantly higher free T and lower SHBG levels, as well as a significant higher LH level vs. white wine in healthy premenopausal women. These data suggest that red wine is a nutritional AI and may explain the observation that red wine does not appear to increase breast cancer risk.
To conduct a pilot study for feasibility of planning a definitive clinical trial comparing traditional acupuncture (TA) to sham acupuncture (SA) and waiting control (WC) on menopause related vasomotor symptoms (VMS), quality of life (QOL), and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in peri and post-menopausal women.
Thirty-three peri and post-menopausal women with at least 7 VMS daily were randomized to TA, SA or WC. The TA and SA groups were given three treatments per week for 12 weeks. Outcomes included the number and severity of VMS, MENQOL questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Spielberg State-Trait Anxiety Instrument, Pittsburgh Quality Sleep Index, 24 hour urine cortisol and metabolites, and ACTH stimulation testing.
Both TA and SA groups demonstrated improved VMS trends compared to WC (Δ −3.5±3.00 vs. −4.1±3.79 vs. −1.2±2.4, respectively, p=.20), and significantly improved MENQOL vasomotor scores (Δ − 1.5±2.02 vs. −1.8±1.52 vs. 0.3±0.64, respectively, p=.04). There were no psychosocial group differences. Exit 24-hour urinary measures were lower in the TA vs the SA or WC in total cortisol metabolites (4,658.9±1,670.9 vs 7,735.8±3,747.9 vs 5,166.0±2,234.5, p=0.03, respectively) and DHEA (41.4±27.46, 161.2±222.77, 252.4±385.40, respectively, p=0.05). The ACTH stimulation cortisol response data also trended in the hypothesized direction (p=0.17).
Both TA and SA reduce VMS frequency and severity and improve VMS-related quality of life compared to WC; however, TA alone may impact the HPA axis. This association is viewed as preliminary and hypothesis-generating and should be explored in a large clinical trial.
Menopause; VMS; acupuncture; cortisol; mechanisms; randomized control trial
Mortality rates for cardiovascular disease are higher in women than in men, but studies of women have been conducted less frequently. Current pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment options for women with stable angina are reviewed.
To assess the prognostic value of global magnetic resonance (MR) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) in women with suspected myocardial ischemia and no obstructive (stenosis <50%) coronary artery disease (CAD).
The prognostic value of global MR-MPI in women without obstructive CAD remains unknown.
Women (n=100, mean age 57±11 years, range 31–76), with symptoms of myocardial ischemia and with no obstructive CAD as assessed by coronary angiography, underwent MR-MPI and standard functional assessment. During follow-up (34±16 months), time to first adverse event (death, myocardial infarction or hospitalization for worsening anginal symptoms) was analyzed using global MPI and left ventricular ejection fraction (EF) data.
Adverse events occurred in 23 (23%). By univariable Cox proportional hazards regression modeling, variables found to be predictive of adverse events were global MR-MPI average uptake slope (p<0.05), the ratio of MR-MPI peak signal amplitude to uptake slope (p<0.05), and ejection fraction (EF) (p<0.05). Two multivariable Cox models were formed, one using variables that are performance-site dependent: ratio of MR-MPI peak amplitude to uptake slope together with EF (Chi-squared 13, p<0.005), and a model using variables that are performance-site independent: MR-MPI slope and EF (Chi-squared 12, p<0.005). Each of the two multivariable models remained predictive of adverse events after adjustment for age, disease history and Framingham risk score. For each of the Cox models, patients were categorized as high-risk if they were in the upper quartile of the model and not high-risk otherwise. Kaplan-Meier analysis of time to event was performed for high-risk vs. not high-risk for site-dependent (log rank 15.2, p<0.001) and site-independent (log rank 13.0, p<001) models.
Among women with suspected myocardial ischemia and no obstructive CAD, MR-MPI determined global measurements of normalized uptake slope and peak signal uptake, together with global functional assessment of EF appear to predict prognosis.
Prognosis; Perfusion; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Women
To determine the relationship of vitamin c intake from supplements vs food on early atherosclerosis detected by carotid intima media thickness (IMT).
Oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction play a critical role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Dietary vitamin C appears to have anti-oxidant properties and beneficial relations to endothelial function, yet vitamin C taken as a vitamin supplement does not appear to protect from cardiovascular events. The impact of vitamin c intake from supplements vs food on progression of atherosclerosis is unknown.
We examined 3-year progression of carotid IMT in a randomly sampled cohort of 573 healthy women and men aged 40-60 years. Progression of carotid IMT was determined bilaterally with B-mode ultrasound at 3 examinations (1.5-year intervals). Intake of dietary vitamin C was measured by six, 24-hour recall interviews. Intake of vitamin C from vitamin supplements was measured by questionnaire in quartiles of supplement intake and no supplement. Vitamin C wasmeasured in plasma as ascorbic acid.
Carotid IMT progressed 10.0±16.5 μm/year (mean±SD) among all those with follow-up (n=500; 87%). For those who took vitamin C supplements, carotid IMT progression increased with dose (p-trend=0.0009). Among persons in the highest quartile (857-5000 mg/day) of vitamin C supplement intake compared to those not consuming any vitamin C supplements, carotid IMT progression increased three-fold (20.3±2.6 versus 7.6±1.8 μm/year (mean±SD); p<0.001). The adverse association of vitamin C supplement intake with carotid IMT was two-fold greater in the upper tertile of serum cholesterol compared to the lower two tertiles (p=0.01). In contrast to the adverse association of vitamin C supplements, vitamin C intake from food had a weak protective relationship on carotid IMT progression (reduced progression -5.0±1.9 μm/year; p=0.008).
Vitamin C supplementation is associated with accelerated early atherosclerosis measured by carotid IMT compared to a protective association with vitamin C from food. Theadverse association of vitamin C supplementation may be greater in patients with higher serum cholesterol levels. The current results provide a potential mechanistic understanding for the observed differences between Vitamin C in supplements vs food in prior studies. Given these observations,vitamin C supplementation does not appear to be currently advisable for prevention or treatment of atherosclerosis.
Ascorbic acid; vitamin C; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease.
Using intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), we sought to characterize coronary morphology in women with chest pain without major epicardial obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). We have previously observed an unexpectedly high rate of adverse outcomes among women with chest pain and normal or insignificant obstructive CAD. Information about the presence and characteristics of coronary atherosclerosis in these women could provide insight into the mechanisms related to increased risk, as well as improved diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
Women (n=100) with suspected ischemia without obstructive CAD (>50% stenosis) underwent IVUS of a left coronary segment with measurements by a core lab masked to clinical and angiographic findings.
Angiograhic core lab analysis found 69.6% of patients had no (≤20%) and 30.4% had minimal (20–<50%) CAD. IVUS segmental images were interpretable by the core lab in 92 women, with 19 (21%) having no atherosclerosis (intimal-medial thickness <0.5 mm). In the remaining 73 women (79%), percent atheroma volume was 27±8% and mean maximum plaque thickness was 0.53±0.22 mm. Thirty-eight women with atherosclerosis (53%) had >30% of interrogated vessel involved. The average vessel involvement was 40%, and the maximum plaque thickness was 1.27 mm. The number of risk factors strongly correlated with percent atheroma volume (r=0.53, p<0.0001) and percent vessel involvement (r=0.51, p<0.0001), with the strongest independent predictor of both being age. Remodeling was assessed in 59/73 women (81%), and 73% had evidence of positive remodeling.
In symptomatic women without significant luminal obstructive CAD, we observed a very high prevalence of atherosclerosis with positive remodeling and preserved lumen size. These findings may help explain increased risk and emphasize need for improved diagnostic and treatment options for women with concealed CAD.
chest pain in women; intravascular ultrasound; atherosclerosis; coronary artery disease
It has been suggested that both endogenous reproductive hormones and hormone therapy may play a protective role against coronary artery disease (CAD). However, recent clinical trials have failed to demonstrate the benefit of a variety of forms of hormone therapy. The observational data on the role of endogenous reproductive hormones, using surrogate measures such as number of birth, age at menarche, and age at menopause are inconsistent. In addition, the longer-term associations have not been evaluated. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationships between detailed measurements of endogenous and exogenous estrogen exposure time with angiographic CAD and major adverse cardiovascular events.
We assessed total estrogen exposure time, quantitative CAD by a core angiography laboratory, and prospectively measured major adverse cardiovascular events in 646 postmenopausal women undergoing coronary angiography for evaluation for suspected ischemia in the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study.
Timing of postmenopausal exogenous hormone therapy (HT) use was associated with reduced CAD. Two summarized total estrogen time scores (TET and sTET) were not related to angiographic CAD after accounting for HT use. In addition, these scores were not related to cardiovascular events over a median of 6.0 years of follow-up.
There was no independent relation of estrogen exposure time to angiographic CAD or major adverse cardiovascular events in a contemporary cohort of postmenopausal women evaluated for suspected ischemia. Our results suggest that the paradigm of estrogen protection from CAD in women may be more complex than estrogen exposure duration alone.
We investigated whether coronary microvascular dysfunction predicts major adverse outcomes during follow-up among women with signs and symptoms of ischemia.
Altered coronary reactivity occurs frequently in women evaluated for suspected ischemia and the endothelium-dependent component is linked with adverse outcomes. Possible links between endothelium-independent microvascular coronary reactivity and adverse outcomes remain uncertain.
As part of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute-sponsored Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE), we investigated relationships between major adverse outcomes and baseline coronary flow reserve (CFR) following intracoronary adenosine in 189 women referred to evaluate suspected ischemia.
At 5.4 (mean) years, we observed significant associations between CFR and major adverse outcomes (death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, or hospitalization for heart failure). An exploratory ROC analysis identified CFR <2.32 as the best discriminating threshold for adverse outcomes (event rate 26.7% and ≥2.32 event rate 12.2%; p = 0.01). Lower CFR was associated with increased risk for major adverse outcomes (HR 1.16, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.30; p = 0.009). This held true among the 152 women without obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) (HR 1.20, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.38; p = 0.008). CFR significantly improved prediction of adverse outcomes over angiographic CAD severity and other risk conditions.
Among women with suspected ischemia and atherosclerosis risk factors, coronary microvascular reactivity to adenosine significantly improves prediction of major adverse outcomes over angiographic CAD severity and CAD risk factors. These findings suggest coronary microvessels represent novel targets for diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to predict and limit adverse outcomes in women.
women; ischemia; adverse outcomes; microcirculation
The aim of this study was to examine the association between the use of lipid-lowering medication and aggressive responding, hostility, cynicism, and depression scores in women undergoing coronary angiography.
The cohort included 498 women from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-sponsored Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study. WISE is a four-center study of women with chest pain who underwent quantitative coronary angiography for suspected myocardial ischemia. The psychosocial indices included the Cook Medley Hostility questionnaire, measuring aggression, hostility, and cynicism, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
Compared to those not on lipid-lowering medication, women receiving lipid-lowering pharmacotherapy were older (62 vs. 55 years, p < 0.001) and had more hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and coronary artery disease (CAD, defined as ≥50% stenoses in at least one epicardial artery) (all p < 0.003). Women on lipid-lowering medication had higher aggressive responding scores than those not on medication, 3.0 ± 1.8 vs. 2.7 ± 1.7, respectively (age-adjusted p < 0.003). This association persisted after adjustment for coronary risk factors, education, and extent of angiographic disease (CAD) (p < 0.005), and after exclusion of women using psychotropic medications (p < 0.001). Hostility, cynicism, and depression scores did not differ by medication use.
In women, lipid-lowering medication may predispose to aggression without affecting hostility or mood, but this hypothesis requires evaluation in placebo-controlled clinical trials.
For women, who are more likely to live in poverty, defining the clinical and economic impact of socioeconomic factors may aid in defining redistributive policies to improve healthcare quality.
The NIH-NHLBI-sponsored Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) enrolled 819 women referred for clinically-indicated coronary angiography. This study’s primary endpoint was to evaluate the independent contribution of socioeconomic factors on the estimation of time to cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction (n=79) using Cox proportional hazards models. Secondary aims included an examination of cardiovascular costs and quality of life within socioeconomic subsets of women.
In univariable models, socioeconomic factors associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction included an annual household income <$20,000 (p=0.0001), <9th grade education (p=0.002), being African American, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian (p=0.016), on Medicaid, Medicare, or other public health insurance (p<0.0001), unmarried (p=0.001), unemployed or employed part-time (p<0.0001), and working in a service job (p=0.003). Of these socioeconomic factors, income (p=0.006) remained a significant predictor of cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction in risk-adjusted models that controlled for angiographic coronary disease, chest pain symptoms, and cardiac risk factors.
Low income women, with an annual household income <$20,000, were more often uninsured or on public insurance (p<0.0001) yet had the highest 5-year hospitalization and drug treatment costs (p<0.0001). Only 17% of low income women had prescription drug coverage (vs. ≥50% of higher income households, p<0.0001) while 64% required ≥2 anti-ischemic medications during follow-up (as compared to 45% of those earning ≥$50,000, p<0.0001).
Economic disadvantage prominently affects cardiovascular disease outcomes for women with chest pain symptoms. These results further support a profound intertwining between poverty and poor health. Cardiovascular disease management strategies should focus on policies that track unmet healthcare needs and worsening clinical status for low income women.
Gender; Socioeconomic Status; Health Policy; Coronary Artery Disease; Cost
Significant cardiac neural and electrophysiologic remodeling occurs with hypercholesterolemia (HC). Whether simvastatin can reverse HC-induced remodeling is unclear.
The purpose of this study was to determine the mechanisms underlying the antiarrhythmic effects of statins.
Rabbits (N = 38) were fed HC chow (HC), standard chow (Control), HC chow followed by standard chow (Withdrawal), or HC chow and simvastatin (Statin) for 8 weeks. The hearts then were Langendorff-perfused for electrophysiologic studies. Nerves were identified by immunostaining of growth-associated protein-43 (GAP43) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Action potential duration (APD) restitution in normal hearts with (N = 5) and without (N = 5) simvastatin therapy also was studied.
Serum cholesterol levels (mg/dL) were 1,855 ± 533 in HC, 50 ± 21 in Control, 570 ± 115 in Withdrawal, and 873 ± 112 in Statin groups (P <.001). Compared with HC (16,700 ± 5,342; 12,200 ± 3,878 µm2/mm2), the Statin group had significantly reduced GAP43-positive (10,289 ± 3,393 µm2/mm2, P = .03) and TH-positive (7,685 ± 2,959 µm2/mm2, P = .04) nerve density, respectively. APD was longer in HC rabbits than in controls (192 ± 20 ms vs 174 ± 17 ms; P <.03). Withdrawal and Statin groups had less APD prolongation than HC group. Statin group has less repolarization heterogeneity than HC group (P <.01). Statin therapy flattened the slope of APD restitution in normal hearts. Ventricular fibrillation was either induced or occurred spontaneously in 79% of hearts in HC, 20% in Control, and 66% in Withdrawal groups. However, there was no VF in hearts of Statin group (P <.001).
Simvastatin significantly reduced vulnerability to ventricular fibrillation via the mechanism of reduction of HC-induced neural and electrophysiologic remodeling.
Arrhythmia; Statin; Lipids; Nervous system; Pathology