BACKGROUND: Myocardial bridges (MBs) are prevalent and can be associated with acute and chronic ischemic syndromes. We sought to determine the substrates for ischemia in patients with angina with nonobstructive coronary arteries and a MB in the left anterior descending artery. METHODS: Patients with angina with nonobstructive coronary arteries underwent the acquisition of intracoronary pressure and flow during rest, supine bicycle exercise, and adenosine infusion. Coronary wave intensity analysis was performed, with perfusion efficiency defined as accelerating wave energy/total wave energy (%). Epicardial endothelial dysfunction was defined as a reduction in epicardial vessel diameter ≥20% in response to intracoronary acetylcholine infusion. Patients with angina with nonobstructive coronary arteries and a MB were compared with 2 angina with nonobstructive coronary arteries groups with no MB: 1 with coronary microvascular disease (CMD: coronary flow reserve, <2.5) and 1 with normal coronary flow reserve (reference: coronary flow reserve, ≥2.5). RESULTS: Ninety-two patients were enrolled in the study (30 MB, 33 CMD, and 29 reference). Fractional flow reserve in these 3 groups was 0.86±0.05, 0.92±0.04, and 0.94±0.05; coronary flow reserve was 2.5±0.5, 2.0±0.3, and 3.2±0.6. Perfusion efficiency increased numerically during exercise in the reference group (65±9%-69±13%; P=0.063) but decreased in the CMD (68±10%-50±10%; P<0.001) and MB (66±9%-55±9%; P<0.001) groups. The reduction in perfusion efficiency had distinct causes: in CMD, this was driven by microcirculation-derived energy in early diastole, whereas in MB, this was driven by diminished accelerating wave energy, due to the upstream bridge, in early systole. Epicardial endothelial dysfunction was more common in the MB group (54% versus 29% reference and 38% CMD). Overall, 93% of patients with a MB had an identifiable ischemic substrate. CONCLUSIONS: MBs led to impaired coronary perfusion efficiency during exercise, which was due to diminished accelerating wave energy in early systole compared with the reference group. Additionally, there was a high prevalence of endothelial and microvascular dysfunction. These ischemic mechanisms may represent distinct treatment targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E013657
JournalCirculation. Cardiovascular interventions
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2023


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