Chest pain after coronary interventional procedures. Incidence and pathophysiology

A Jeremias, S Kutscher, M Haude, D Heinen, D Baumgart, J Herrmann, R Erbel
Herz 1999, 24 (2): 126-31
Chest pain following successful percutaneous coronary interventions is a common problem. Although the development of chest pain after coronary interventions may be of benign character, it is disturbing to patients, relatives and hospital staff. Such pain may be indicative of acute coronary artery closure, coronary artery spasm or myocardial infarction, but may also simply reflect local coronary artery trauma. The distinction between these causes of chest pain is crucial in selecting optimal care. Management of these patients may involve repeat coronary angiography and additional intervention. Commonly, repeat coronary angiography following percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) in patients with chest pain demonstrates widely patent lesion sites suggesting that the pain was due to coronary artery spasm, coronary arterial wall stretching or was of non-cardiac origin. As reported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute PTCA Registry, 4.6% of patients after angioplasty have coronary occlusions, 4.8% suffer a myocardial infarction, and 4.2% have coronary spasm. The frequency of chest pain after new device coronary interventions (atherectomy and stenting) seems to be even higher. However, only the minority of patients with post-procedural chest pain have indeed an ischemic event. Therefore, the vast majority of patients have recurrent chest pain without any signs of ischemia. There is some evidence that non-ischemic chest pain after coronary interventions is more common after stent implantation as compared to PTCA (41% vs. 12%). This may be due to the continuous stretching of the arterial wall by the stent as the elastic recoil occurring after PTCA is minimized. In conclusion, chest pain after coronary interventional procedures may potentially be hazardous when due to myocardial ischemia. However, especially after coronary stent placement, cardiologists must consider "stretch pain" due to the overdilation and stretching of the artery caused by the stent in the differential diagnosis. Clinically, it is, therefore, important to recognize that in addition to ischemia-related chest pain other types of chest pain do exist with cardiac origin.

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