Objectives. This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition may lessen myocardial ischemia in patients with microvascular angina. Background. Patients with syndrome X (angina pectoris, positive findings on exercise testing and normal coronary arteriogram) have reduced coronary vasodilator reserve ("microvascular angina", and may show an increased sympathetic drive. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition attenuates sympathetic coronary vasoconstriction in patients with coronary artery disease. Methods. Ten patients (seven women and three men, mean age [±SD] 53 ± 6 years) with syndrome X and a reduced coronary flow reserve underwent a randomized, single-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled study of the effects of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril on angina and exercise-induced ST segment depression. Assessment was by symptom-limited treadmill exercise testing after 2 weeks of treatment with 10 mg/day of enalapril and after 2 weeks of placebo administration. Results. All patients had positive findings on exercise testing (≥1 mm ST segment depression and angina) white taking placebo, whereas six patients had a positive test results (four with angina) during enalapril therapy. Total exercise duration and time to 1 mm of ST segment depression were prolonged by enalapril over those obtained with placebo (mean 779 ± 141 vs. 690 ± 148s, p = 0.006 and 690 ± 204 vs. 485 ± 241 s, p = 0.007, respectively). The magnitude of ST segment depression was also less with enalapril than with placebo (mean 1.1 ± 0.4 vs. 1.5 ± 0.2 mm, p = 0.004). Heart rate and blood pressure at peak exercise and at 1 mm of ST depression were not significantly different during placebo and enalapril treatment. Conclusions. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition lessens exercise-induced ischemia in patients with syndrome X and microvascular angina, probably by a direct modulation of coronary microvascular tone, which results in an increased myocardial oxygen supply.
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