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      Novel insights into an old controversy : Is coronary artery ectasia a variant of coronary atherosclerosis?


      , MD, , MD PhD

      Clinical Research in Cardiology


      coronary artery ectasia, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis

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          Coronary artery ectasia (CAE) is defined as a localized or diffuse non-obstructive lesion of the epicardial coronary arteries with a luminal dilation exceeding 1.5-fold the diameter of the normal adjacent arterial segment. The incidence of CAE has been reported to range between 2% and 4%, which might be an overestimation of the true frequency. The coincidence of CAE with other systemic vascular dilatations has suggested that the mechanism underlying CAE is not only localized to coronary arteries, but also to other vascular compartments such as aorta or peripheral veins. Although the pathophysiology of CAE remains largely unknown, it was supposed to represent a variant of coronary atherosclerosis. This review focuses on this controversy of whether CAE and coronary artery disease (CAD) are two manifestations of the same underlying process. There are clear differences between CAD and CAE with respect to cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, and pathogenic steps in disease progress such as inflammation or extracellular matrix remodeling. As this review will underscore, the current knowledge of the field is insufficient to finally clarify the causative interrelation between CAE and CAD. The clinical course and treatment of CAE mainly depends on its coexistence with CAD. When coexisting with CAD, the prognosis and treatment of CAE are the same as for CAD alone. In isolated CAE, prognosis is better and anti-platelet drugs are the mainstay of treatment. Surgical treatment can be considered in selected patients. For clarifying the mechanism underlying CAE, additional clinical, histopathological and pathophysiological investigations are required. In fact, every patient with CAE should be evaluated systematically for pathological changes in other vascular territories, both in the arterial system as well as in the venous system, which might occur in the disease process.

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          Most cited references 109

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                Author and article information

                +31-4 33 87 51 06 , +31-4 33 87 51 04 , j.waltenberger@cardio.azm.nl
                Clin Res Cardiol
                Clinical Research in Cardiology
                Steinkopff-Verlag (Darmstadt )
                26 April 2007
                June 2007
                : 96
                : 6
                : 331-339
                Department of Cardiology, University Hospital of Maastricht and Cardiovascular Research Institute of Maastricht (CARIM) University of Maastricht, P. Debyelaan 25, 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands
                © Steinkopff-Verlag 2007
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                © Steinkopff-Verlag 2007

                Cardiovascular Medicine

                coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, coronary artery ectasia


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