Non-obstructive coronary artery disease may be more threatening than it seems
Non-obstructive coronary artery disease was associated with a 28 to 44 percent increased risk of a major cardiac event such as a heart attack or death, in a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2014 Scientific Sessions.
Researchers observed 40,872 veterans who underwent elective cardiac angiography from October 2007 to September 2012. Angiography is an X-ray test that can detect weakened blood vessel walls and narrowed or blocked vessels. Patients were categorized as having normal, non-obstructive or obstructive CAD. Heart attack and death rates within a year of angiography increased with CAD severity, even among those patients with non-obstructive CAD, researchers found.
In this study, non-obstructive CAD was defined as blood vessels that were less than 70 percent blocked.
“Unlike obstructive CAD, which blocks blood flow, non-obstructive CAD may initially appear less threatening on angiography tests, but it appears to have significant risk for heart attack and death” said Thomas M. Maddox, M.D., M.Sc., the study’s lead researcher, a cardiologist for the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System and associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. “Dismissing non-obstructive CAD as harmless could be dangerous. Our findings show there is indeed a risk, that non-obstructive damage can lead to heart attacks just like obstructive disease, and that we should consider preventive therapies for these patients.”
Patients with non-obstructive disease should ask their physicians about preventative therapies, like quitting smoking, healthy diets, getting enough exercise, losing weight and taking preventative medications such as aspirin and statins.
Stories available for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting
Stories appearing on blog.heart.org under the "By American Heart Association News" byline are available for linking, quoting, excerpting and reprinting. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to the American Heart Association. Additional conditions may apply to the use of these stories in printed materials.
American Heart Association additional conditions for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting stories in print media
- A credit line of American Heart Association News must be prominently placed on the page in which the American Heart Association materials appear.
- The American Heart Association logo and service marks may only be used if they appear on the materials requested.
- Stories reprinted may be edited for length, but no other deletions, alterations or other changes may be made without the prior written consent of the American Heart Association.
- Artwork labeled "American Heart Association" may be reprinted, but other artwork may not. For artwork permission questions, contact email@example.com
- Stories reprinted may not be placed adjacent to any advertisement, photo, graphic or other content that could be considered inappropriate by the American Heart Association. For questions about whether content is inappropriate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stories may not be displayed in any way that gives the appearance that the American Heart Association endorses (implied or otherwise) or is affiliated with any product, service or company.