BACKGROUND: A sizeable number of patients with a diagnosis of non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome show non-obstructive coronary artery disease. In this study we assessed whether differences in vascular and cardiac autonomic function exist between non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome patients with obstructive or non-obstructive coronary artery disease.METHODS AND RESULTS: Systemic endothelium-dependent and independent vascular dilator function (assessed by flow-mediated dilation and nitrate-mediated dilation of the brachial artery, respectively) and cardiac autonomic function (assessed by time-domain and frequency-domain heart rate variability parameters) were assessed on admission in 120 patients with a diagnosis of non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome. Patients were divided into two groups according to coronary angiography findings: (a) 59 (49.2%) with obstructive coronary artery disease (≥50% stenosis in any epicardial arteries); (b) 61 (50.8%) with non-obstructive coronary artery disease. No significant differences between the two groups were found in both flow-mediated dilation (5.03±2.6 vs. 5.40±2.5%, respectively; P=0.37) and nitrate-mediated dilatation (6.79±2.8 vs. 7.30±3.4%, respectively; P=0.37). No significant differences were also observed between the two groups both in time-domain and frequency-domain heart rate variability variables, although the triangular index tended to be lower in obstructive coronary artery disease patients (30.2±9.5 vs. 33.9±11.6, respectively; P=0.058). Neither vascular nor heart rate variability variables predicted the recurrence of angina, requiring emergency room admission or re-hospitalisation, during 11.3 months of follow-up.CONCLUSIONS: Among patients admitted with a diagnosis of non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome we found no significant differences in systemic vascular dilator function and cardiac autonomic function between those with obstructive coronary artery disease and those with non-obstructive coronary artery disease.
- Acute coronary syndrome
- cardiac autonomic function
- endothelial function
- non-obstructive coronary artery disease