Platelet hyperaggregability across the coronary bed in response to rapid atrial pacing in patients with stable coronary artery disease.
BACKGROUND Platelet aggregation is believed to contribute to the precipitation of acute ischemic syndromes. Because physical activity has been proposed as one possible trigger in converting a patient with chronic coronary artery disease to one with an acute ischemic syndrome, we examined the hypothesis that platelets become activated when coronary blood flow velocities (and thereby shear stress) increase across an atherosclerotic bed.
METHODS AND RESULTS During catheterization, 82 patients (36 with left coronary artery disease, 12 with only right coronary artery disease, and 34 with normal coronary arteries) had measurement of whole blood platelet aggregation performed on blood samples obtained simultaneously from the coronary sinus and aorta at rest, 2 minutes after onset of rapid atrial pacing, and 10 minutes after pacing was terminated. There was no arteriovenous difference in platelet aggregation under resting conditions in patients with versus those without coronary artery disease. Atrial pacing in patients with left coronary artery disease (greater than or equal to 50% stenosis in a major epicardial vessel) caused an increase in platelet aggregation in the coronary sinus blood (+64 +/- 9%, p less than 0.01) but not in arterial blood (2 +/- 8% decrease, p = NS). This increase was transient and returned nearly to baseline 10 minutes after termination of pacing. Patients with nonsignificant left coronary artery disease, those with normal coronary arteries, and patients with significant disease only in the right coronary artery (venous drainage not into the coronary sinus) did not show any changes in either the coronary sinus or arterial blood with atrial pacing.
CONCLUSIONS There is no evidence of platelet activation across a normal or an atherosclerotic coronary bed at rest. When coronary blood flow increases in the presence of significant (greater than or equal to 50%) narrowing of epicardial coronary arteries, however, platelets are activated and aggregate more easily. This mechanism may play a role in the precipitation of acute ischemic syndromes in patients with coronary artery disease.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association