Microvascular angina: angina that predominantly affects women

Korean J Intern Med. 2015 Mar;30(2):140-7. doi: 10.3904/kjim.2015.30.2.140. Epub 2015 Feb 27.


In women receiving evaluation for suspected ischemic symptoms, a "normal" diagnosis is five times more common than it is in men. These women are often labeled as having cardiac syndrome X, also known as microvascular angina (MVA). MVA is defined as angina pectoris caused by abnormalities of the small coronary arteries, and is characterized by effort chest pain and evidence of myocardial ischemia with a non-invasive stress test, although the coronary arteries can appear normal or near normal by angiography. MVA patients are often neglected due to the assumption of a good prognosis. However, MVA has important prognostic implications and a proper diagnosis is necessary in order to relieve the patients' symptoms and improve clinical outcomes. The coronary microvasculature cannot be directly imaged using coronary angiography, due to the small diameter of the vessels; therefore, the coronary microvascular must be assessed functionally. Treatment of MVA initially includes standard anti-ischemic drugs (β-blockers, calcium antagonists, and nitrates), although control of symptoms is often insufficient. In this review, we discuss the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of MVA.

Keywords: Microvascular angina; Review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Coronary Circulation
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Function Tests
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Microvascular Angina / diagnosis
  • Microvascular Angina / drug therapy
  • Microvascular Angina / epidemiology*
  • Microvascular Angina / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cardiovascular Agents