Role of coronary arterial spasm in sudden coronary ischemic death.

A. Maseri, S. Severi, P. Marzullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sudden coronary death is a syndrome caused by different mechanisms, all of which should be separately considered with respect to preventive measures. Ventricular fibrillation, tachycardia, and complete atrioventricular block were repeatedly observed during ischemic episodes caused by spasm in both the presence and absence of anginal pain. Spasm is, therefore, a potential cause of sudden coronary death. In "variant" angina, which is a reasonably reliable indicator of coronary spasm, arrhythmias occur in about 25% of patients and tend to recur in the same patient. The severity of coronary atherosclerosis in patients who develop severe arrhythmias is quite variable and not dissimilar from patient who do not. Mortality is considerably higher in patients with severe disease, but fibrillation and death can occur also in patients with angiographically normal arteries. In these patients acute and long-term treatment with nitrates and slow channel blockers appears to give remarkable results. Prevention of arrhythmias in patients in whom arrhythmias are secondary to acute ischemic episodes caused by vasospasm should be attempted by preventing vasospasm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-217
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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