Morphology of exertion-triggered plaque rupture in patients with acute coronary syndrome: an optical coherence tomography study

Atsushi Tanaka, Toshio Imanishi, Hironori Kitabata, Takashi Kubo, Shigeho Takarada, Takashi Tanimoto, Akio Kuroi, Hiroto Tsujioka, Hideyuki Ikejima, Satoshi Ueno, Hideaki Kataiwa, Keishi Okouchi, Manabu Kashiwaghi, Hiroki Matsumoto, Kazushi Takemoto, Nobuo Nakamura, Kumiko Hirata, Masato Mizukoshi, Takashi Akasaka
Circulation 2008 December 2, 118 (23): 2368-73

BACKGROUND: Plaque rupture and secondary thrombus formation play key roles in the onset of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). One pathological study suggested that the morphologies of plaque rupture differed between rest-onset and exertion-triggered rupture in men who experienced sudden death. The aim of the present study was to use optical coherence tomography to investigate the relationship in patients with ACS between the morphology of a ruptured plaque and the patient's activity at the onset of ACS.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The study population was drawn from 43 consecutive ACS patients (with or without ST-segment elevation) who underwent optical coherence tomography and presented with a ruptured plaque at the culprit site. Patients were divided into a rest group and an exertion group on the basis of their activities at the onset of ACS. The thickness of the broken fibrous cap correlated positively with activity at the onset of ACS. The culprit plaque ruptured at the shoulder more frequently in the exertion group than in the rest group (rest 57% versus exertion 93%, P=0.014). The thickness of the broken fibrous cap in the exertion group was significantly higher than in the rest-onset group (rest onset: 50 microm [interquartile median 15 microm]; exertion: 90 microm [interquartile median 65 microm], P<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: The morphologies of exertion-triggered and rest-onset ruptured plaques differ in ACS patients. Our data suggest that a thin-cap fibroatheroma is a lesion predisposed to rupture both at rest and during the patient's day-to day activity, and some plaque rupture may occur in thick fibrous caps depending on exertion levels.

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