DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.19084 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 19084: The Deadly Squeeze - Coronary Vasospasm Complicated by Myocardial Infarction and Cardiac Arrest

Maliha Butt, Maxine Nelson, Vyshnavi Ishwarawaka, Dilanthy Annappah, Varun Victor, Sara Godil, Abdallah Masri, Prabhakaran Gopalakrishnan
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Introduction: Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) typically results from atherosclerotic plaque rupture. However, about 6% of ST elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) patients have no obstructive disease. We present a case of STEMI, diagnosed with coronary vasospasm.


Methods: A 54-year-old female with alcohol abuse, smoking and uncontrolled hypertension presented after an out of hospital ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest. EKG showed anterolateral ST elevation (STE). Left heart catheterization (LHC) showed moderate to severe multi-vessel disease without a definitive culprit lesion. STE resolved. Heart team approach for revascularization was contemplated. Echocardiogram showed systolic dysfunction with ejection fraction (EF) of 25%. Patient had another cardiac arrest and EKG showed recurrent anterolateral STE. Repeat LHC showed severe vasospasm of Left anterior descending (LAD) artery and diagonal branch, which improved with intracoronary (IC) nitroglycerin. Vasospasm was attributed to smoking and catecholamine excess from alcohol withdrawal. She was started on intravenous nitroglycerin and amlodipine. Her hospital course was complicated by high degree AV block requiring temporary pacer. She was eventually extubated with good neurological recovery and recovered systolic function (EF 60%). She was counselled on smoking and alcohol cessation and discharged home on isosorbide dinitrate and Amlodipine with planned surgical revascularization.

Results: Coronary vasospasm (CVS) can occur both in normal and diseased coronaries. Risk factors include smoking, alcohol use and withdrawal, cocaine, mental stress, etc. Vasospasm may present as Prinzmetal’s angina, myocardial infarction, AV block, or fatal arrhythmias. IC nitroglycerine during LHC aids in diagnosis of CVS in setting of ACS. IVUS (Intravascular ultrasound) may help diagnose presence or absence of concomitant atherosclerotic disease. Provocative testing with IC ergonovine and acetylcholine may be considered in non-ACS setting.

Conclusions: This case emphasizes the need to have a high index of suspicion for vasospasm to prevent associated complications and establish an accurate diagnosis and guide proper management of this potentially fatal disease.

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