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Should post prandial angina be classified as unstable angina?

Posted May 25 2010 10:51am

Stable angina is graded by Canadian cardiovascular society classification ( CCSC ) by 4 grades. Angina at rest  usually  denotes unstable angina. But,  patients with stable angina  may also experience rest angina according to CCSC ,  still this is   not considered as  unstable angina by many . Post prandial angina is one such  example.

Few consider post prandial angina as unstable angina . This sort of reasoning can not be faulted .

In  the logical sense ,  we are dealing with varied  categories of unstable angina.  The importance of diagnosing unstable angina is to intervene early ,  so that we can avoid  major adverse outcome .

The problem in CAD is , often , the plaques and angina do not  obey the rules we create !

.The following permutations and combinations could be  observed in any coronary care unit .

  1. Unstable angina –  stable plaques  - stable ECG – stable patient
  2. Unstable angina – unstable plaques  -  unstable patient
  3. Unstable Angina  – unstable plaque  -  stable patient
  4. Stable Angina –  unstable plaque  –  unstable patient
  5. Stable angina  –  stable plaque  -    stable patient
  6. Stable angina –  unstable  plaque  – stable patient

Among the above 6 categories  2nd  is   probably  the most dangerous group and category 5 is most benign.

Post prandial angina is a serious  form of angina.It implies  , even   diversion of  little blood to GI system immediately after a meal can provoke an episode of  ischemia  .This infers a  very tight  lesion somewhere in the coronary tree,  very often it could be the  left main or proximal LAD.

Of course ,  there is  another mechanism for post prandial angina, namely GI neurotransmitters  like gut peptides acting as a coronary vasoconstrictor.

Snippets on  post prandial angina  .

It is also recognised , post prandial angina occurs more often during dinner, followed by lunch and breakfast. Carbohydrate foods are  more likely to precipitate it .

Does PPA cause ST depression ?

Logically it should .In reality It happens in few .

How to manage it ?

It is very important to recognise , even though this article  argues  for including  PPA  as UA, there is no acute thrombotic process during  an   episode of  post prandial angina . In fact , it is  more of a secondary UA due to altered  blood flow pattern.

So , do not admit these patients  in CCU and administer  heparin or 2a 3b blockers.  (Unless of course ,they have other forms of rest angina )

Link to reference

2. Effect of carbohydrate diet on postprandail angina

3.H emodynamics of eating !

Final message

Post prandial angina has all the characters  of a severe form of angina  .There  is every reason to label it as UA .It is suggested , ACC,ESC, AHA  should consider including  post prandial  angina as  UA or at least  UA equivalent .This would help intervene this entity early.


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