Clinical characteristics and coronary angiographic findings of patients with unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction, and survivors of sudden ischemic death occurring during and after sport

Am Heart J. 1990 Dec;120(6 Pt 1):1267-78. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(90)90235-p.


The clinical characteristics and coronary angiographic findings of 42 well-conditioned subjects with an acute ischemic event related to sport are reported. Five patients had unstable angina, 25 had acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and 12 were resuscitated victims of sudden ischemic death. Twenty-two events occurred during sport (group A) and 20 after sport (group B). There were two women and 40 men. The mean age was 46 years (range 25 to 65). Twelve out of 30 patients who smoked cigarettes had an adjunctive risk factor for coronary artery disease. Twelve others (28%) had no identifiable risk factor. Prodromal cardiac symptoms were detected in three patients (group A). Two patients had previous myocardial infarction (group B). Coronary angiography was performed acutely in 39 patients. The distribution of the ischemia-related coronary artery was comparable in both groups. The lesion morphology of 35 culprit coronary arteries was described as concentric in six patients and eccentric with regular borders (type I lesion) in 11 and irregular borders (type II lesion) in 18. Eccentric lesions consistent with ruptured plaques prevailed in both groups. Associated coronary artery disease was present in 10 patients. There was no relationship between the number of risk factors and the extent of diseased coronary arteries. Clinical characteristics and coronary angiographic findings of patients with unstable angina, AMI, and sudden death either during or after sport are similar and indicate a common pathogenesis. The probable mechanism of a coronary event related to sport is exercise-induced plaque rupture. In most instances such an event is unexpected and unpredictable. Identification of some subjects at risk is possible.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angina, Unstable / diagnostic imaging*
  • Angina, Unstable / epidemiology
  • Coronary Angiography*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Thrombosis / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden* / epidemiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Resuscitation
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports*