Artery Disease May Threaten Patients After Heart Attack

Patients with ST segment elevation myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease were more likely to have complications

(RxWiki News) When an artery that brings blood to the heart is blocked, a heart attack can occur. If a patient has a partially blocked arteries, their risk of death after a heart attack increases.

A new study found that patients with a certain type of heart attack and partially blocked heart arteries, had a higher risk of dying. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen, it can be damaged. This damage can lead to serious medical consequences or death.

A type of heart attack called an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, can deprive the heart muscle of oxygen. 

Lead study author Manesh R. Patel, MD, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, NC, and colleagues reviewed data from eight major studies of patients who had a STEMI. The studies were published between 1993 and 2007.

Past research found that patients who had STEMIs and had coronary artery disease in multiple arteries were more likely to have complications after a heart attack. These complications included chest pain during activity or stress, called angina. Such patients were also more likely to require repeated treatment.

Dr. Patel and colleagues studied a condition called non-infarct-related artery (non-IRA) disease. Non-IRA disease refers to blocked arteries that don't cause a heart attack.

A total of 68,765 patients were enrolled in the studies. The researchers looked specifically at 28,282 patients who had cardiac catheterizations. A cardiac catheterization involves passing a thin tube through a blood vessel into the arteries of the heart. Dye injected into the catheter can show signs of blocked or narrowed arteries.

The research team studied how many patients had non-IRA disease, how severe it was and which arteries were diseased. More than half of the patients in the study had non-IRA disease — a total of 14,929.

Coronary artery disease was similar in patients with and without non-IRA disease in terms of how serious it was and where it was located. But patients with non-IRA disease were more likely to die within 30 days of a heart attack — 3.3 percent died, compared to 1.9 percent of those without non-IRA disease.

Dr. Patel and team called for further research on the connection between non-IRA disease, STEMI and deaths within 30 days of a heart attack.

This study was published Nov. 19 in JAMA.

The John Bush Simson Fund and the Duke Clinical Research Institute funded the study. Several study authors received funding from pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. Dr. Patel served as a consultant for Bayer and received grant funds from Johnson & Johnson.

Review Date: 
November 17, 2014