Optical Coherence Tomography for the Diagnosis of Exercise-Related Acute Cardiovascular Events and Inconclusive Coronary Angiography

J Interv Cardiol. 2020 Jul 22;2020:8263923. doi: 10.1155/2020/8263923. eCollection 2020.


Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess the utility of optical coherence tomography (OCT) in patients with exercise-related acute coronary syndrome (ACS) presenting with inconclusive angiographic findings.

Background: Regular physical activity reduces the incidence of cardiovascular events. Nevertheless, the risk of ACS or sudden cardiac death (SCD) increases during sport. In adults older than 35 years, exercise-related ACS or SCD is associated with plaque rupture, but not infrequently patients present ambiguous angiographic findings.

Methods: Between September 2015 and January 2020, patients admitted for ACS or SCD triggered by physical exertion and with coronary stenosis ≤50% were included in this prospective observational study. OCT was performed on the artery deemed to be responsible of the event.

Results: Ten patients were enrolled, predominantly men (80%) of middle age (51 years old, IQR 41-63) with low cardiovascular risk burden. Cycling was the most frequent (50%) exercise-related trigger, 8 patients were regular sport practitioners, and 7 had the clinical event during strenuous exertion. Five patients presented with non-ST-elevation ACS, two with ST-elevation ACS, and three with SCD. Angiographic analysis showed nonsignificant stenosis in all patients (42% stenosis, IQR 36-46). OCT identified the etiology of the event in 9 patients (4 plaque erosion, 3 plaque rupture, 1 eruptive calcific nodule, and 1 coronary dissection). Treatment was adjusted according to OCT findings.

Conclusions: OCT is a valuable technique to identify the etiology of exercise-related ACS or SCD in patients with nonobstructive coronary arteries and, as a result, may lead to a more specific treatment.