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Coronary artery spasm and ventricular arrhythmias
  1. Khang Li Looi,
  2. Andrew Grace,
  3. Sharad Agarwal
  1. Department of Cardiology, Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Khang Li Looi, Department of Cardiology, Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge CB23 3RE, UK; khangli{at}


Coronary artery spasm (CAS) is characterised by chest pain at rest and transient ST segment elevation on the ECG. The natural history of variant angina is not fully understood. Patients with CAS are younger, mostly female subjects and usually do not have traditional cardiovascular risk factors other than cigarette smoking. Cardiac arrhythmias are known to be associated with CAS. Ventricular arrhythmia is a well-recognised complication and sudden cardiac death has also been documented. The most important diagnostic tool in CAS is coronary angiography. 24 h ECG Holter monitoring can be very useful in the diagnosis of ventricular arrhythmias caused by CAS. The mainstay therapy for CAS is calcium channel blockers and nitrates. The use of β-blockers, especially the non-selective group, can promote attacks or prolong vasospastic state. The indication for implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implantation in a patient with CAS is still not clearly established. The role of primary prevention with the use of ICD is controversial; however, ICD implantation should be considered in high risk patients despite optimal medical treatment.

  • Spasm coronary artery disease
  • sudden cardiac death arrhythmias
  • calcium channel blockers
  • implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • adult cardiology
  • pacing and electrophysiology

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  • Funding Dr Khang Li Looi is the recipient of New Zealand National Heart Foundation Overseas Training & Research Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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