Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 339–345 | Cite as

Vasotonic Angina as a Cause of Myocardial Ischemia in Women

  • Edina Cenko
  • Raffaele BugiardiniEmail author


The frequency, presentation, prognosis, and treatment of myocardial ischemia differ in men and women. A large proportion of women who have “normal” coronary arteries on angiography without any significant evidence of flow-limiting disease also have biochemical or imaging evidence of myocardial ischemia. In these women it is believed to be a dysfunction of coronary microcirculation and/or macrocirculation, or vasotonic angina (VA), that leads to abnormal vasoconstriction, and potentially to myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias, and sudden death. Despite having a “normal” or near normal coronary angiography, these women should therefore undergo additional testing with acetylcholine to assess endothelial function. Long-term survival is believed to be relatively good. Predictors of poorer prognosis include documentation of severe endothelial dysfunction and presence of concurrent angiographycally visible coronary atherosclerosis. Because atherosclerosis is common in patients with VA, medical and lifestyle interventions for preventing or treating atherosclerosis should be implemented when appropriate. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors are the mainstays of medical therapy for VA. Other agents have been tried with variable success, including beta-blockers. There are no available data on any specific treatment of VA in women (versus men).


Vasotonic angina Cardiac syndrome X Non-obstructive coronary artery disease Women 


Conflict of Interest



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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty MedicineUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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