Specific platelet mediators and unstable coronary artery lesions. Experimental evidence and potential clinical implications.
We have speculated previously that the abrupt conversion from chronic stable to unstable angina and the continuum to acute myocardial infarction may result from myocardial ischemia caused by progressive platelet aggregation and dynamic vasoconstriction themselves caused by local increases in thromboxane and serotonin at sites of coronary artery stenosis and endothelial injury. Platelet aggregation and dynamic coronary artery vasoconstriction probably result from the local accumulation of thromboxane and serotonin and also relative decreases in the local concentrations of endothelially derived vasodilators and inhibitors of platelet aggregation, such as endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF) and prostacyclin. With severe reductions in coronary blood flow caused by these mechanisms, platelet aggregates may increase, and an occlusive thrombus composed of platelets and white and red blood cells in a fibrin mesh may develop. When coronary arteries are occluded or narrowed for a sufficient period of time by these mechanisms, myocardial necrosis, electrical instability, or sudden death may occur. We believe that unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction are a continuum in relation to the process of coronary artery thrombosis and vasoconstriction. When the period of platelet aggregation or dynamic vasoconstriction at sites of endothelial injury and coronary artery stenosis is brief, unstable angina or non-Q wave infarction may occur. However, when the coronary artery obstruction by these mechanisms is prolonged for several hours, Q wave myocardial infarction results. Chronic endothelial injury and coronary artery stenosis are probably associated with the accumulation of platelets, white and red blood cells, and a fibrin mesh at the site of stenosis and endothelial injury.
- Copyright © 1989 by American Heart Association