Living with myocardial ischaemia and no obstructive coronary arteries: a qualitative study

Open Heart. 2024 Feb 8;11(1):e002569. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2023-002569.


Objective: To explore the lived experience of people with myocardial ischaemia with no obstructive arteries.

Design: Qualitative study using semistructured interviews.

Setting: Telephone interviews with 17 participants living in the UK.

Participants: 17 people (2 males, 15 females; aged 31-69 years) with a presumed or confirmed diagnosis of myocardial ischaemia with no obstructive arteries, recruited via social media and online patient-led support forums.

Results: Five themes were generated. Theme 1 describes the wide range of experiences that participants described, particularly the frequency and intensity of symptoms, and the uncertainty and fear that symptoms commonly provoked. Theme 2 describes the major impact on social relationships, employment and other aspects of everyday life. Theme 3 illustrates challenging and traumatising experiences participants described around pathways to diagnosis and accessing medical support. Theme 4 highlights the lack of consensus and clarity that participants had been confronted with around treatment and management. Theme 5 describes coping and supportive strategies valued by participants.

Conclusions: This study provides insight into the challenges of living with myocardial ischaemia with no obstructive arteries. Findings highlight the significant psychological impact on people living with these conditions and the need for improvements in diagnosis, support and long-term management.

Keywords: Coronary Artery Disease; Health Services; Microvascular Angina.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Disease*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research