The aorta wall of patients presenting to the emergency department with acute myocardial infarction by cardiac magnetic resonance



      Inflammation has been shown to be a major component in the pathophysiology of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). In patients presenting with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), a critical component of the ACS spectrum, multiple coronary arteries are involved during this inflammatory process. In addition to the coronary vasculature, the inflammatory cascade has also been shown to affect the carotid arteries and possibly the aorta.


      To assess the involvement of the aorta during AMI by cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR).


      We prospectively evaluated the aortic wall by CMR in 123 patients. 78 patients were enrolled from the emergency department (ED), who presented with chest pain and were classified as either: (1) AMI: elevated troponin levels and typical chest pain or (2) non-cardiac chest pain (CP): negative troponins and a normal stress test or normal cardiac catheterization. We compared these 2 groups to a group of 45 asymptomatic diabetic patients. The descending thoracic aortic wall area (AWA) and maximal aortic wall thickness (AWT) were measured using a double inversion recovery T-2 weighted, ECG-gated, spin echo sequence by CMR.


      Patients with AMI were older, more likely to smoke, had a higher incidence of claudication, and had higher CRP levels. The AWA and maximal AWT were greater in patients who presented to the ED with ACS (2.11 ± 0.17 mm2, and 3.17 ± 0.19 mm, respectively) than both patients presenting with non-cardiac CP (1.52 ± 0.58 mm2, p < 0.001; and 2.57 ± 0.10 mm, p < 0.001) and the diabetic patients (1.38 ± 0.58 mm2, p < 0.001; and 2.30 ± 0.131 mm, p < 0.001). The difference in the aortic wall characteristics remained significant after correcting for body mass index, hyperlipidemia, statins and C-reactive protein. There was no difference in maximal AWT or AWA between patients with non-cardiac CP and patients with diabetes.


      Patients with AMI have a significantly greater maximal aortic wall thickness and area compared to patients with non-cardiac CP. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess whether this increase is due to inflammation or a higher atherosclerotic burden.


      ACS (acute coronary syndrome), NSTEMI (non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction), CAD (coronary artery disease), DM (diabetes mellitus), ED (emergency department), CMR (cardiac magnetic resonance), AWA (aortic wall area), AWT (aortic wall thickness)


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