Morphologic evidence for coronary artery spasm in eclampsia.
Vascular spasm has been considered to be an important component of the eclamptic state. If this abnormal vascular reactivity affects the coronary arteries in eclampsia, one might expect to find areas of myocardial contraction band necrosis, a lesion secondary to coronary reflow after periods of no flow. We reviewed the cardiac findings in the 34 patients with fatal eclampsia (hypertension, edema, proteinuria, and convulsions without evident cause) autopsied at The Johns Hopkins Hospital since 1899, and compared each with the next pregnant or puerperal nontoxemic autopsied patient. The eclamptic patients were 15-45 years old (average 27 years). Convulsions began antepartum in 21 patients, intrapartum in eight, and postpartum in five. The hearts weighed 200-407 g (average 312 g). One heart had rheumatic valvular disease and one had myocarditis. Histologic study of heart sections showed the presence of contraction band necrosis in 12 cases (35%). The control cases included two patients with rheumatic valvular disease, two with endocarditis, two with myocarditis, two with pericarditis, and one with leukemic infiltration. Only one control patient (3%) had contraction band necrosis (p less than 0.001). The frequent occurrence of myocardial contraction band necrosis suggests that coronary artery spasm may be common in patients who die with eclampsia.
- Copyright © 1982 by American Heart Association