Angina pectoris, myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death with normal coronary arteries: a clinicopathologic study of 9 patients with progressive systemic sclerosis

Am Heart J. 1978 May;95(5):563-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(78)90297-1.


The syndrome of angina pectoris or acute myocardial infarction without obstructive coronary artery disease has been the subject of much interest. We studied nine autopsied patients with progressive systemic sclerosis and evidence of ischemic heart disease but morphologically normal coronary arteries. Three patients had angina pectoris and three others chest pains of unknown etiology, six had ventricular arrhythmias, four had clinically suspected acute myocardial infarction, and eight had sudden cardiac death. At autopsy extensive focal myocardial necrosis was present in seven patients and myocardial scarring in all nine, but all patients had widely patent intramural and extramural coronary arteries. The finding of contraction band myocardial necrosis in seven of the eight patients who experienced sudden death suggests that the myocardial damage was a consequence of reperfusion of focally nonperfused myocardium, and thus due to a myocardial Raynaud's phenomenon. Patients with PSS may provide a model of spasm of intramyocardial vessels causing angina pectoris or myocardial infarction with morphologically normal coronary arteries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / complications*
  • Angina Pectoris / pathology
  • Autopsy
  • Child
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology*
  • Death, Sudden*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications*
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Raynaud Disease / complications
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*