Background and study objective: Ambient cold exposure may induce myocardial ischemia by precipitating coronary artery constriction and a decrease in coronary blood flow. Estrogen has vasoactive properties that may prevent abnormal coronary constriction in a sex-independent manner. The purpose of this study is to determine whether estrogen acutely abolishes abnormal coronary responses to cold exposure in men.
Design: Randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Setting: Cardiac catheterization laboratory.
Patients: Men referred for routine diagnostic coronary angiography who exhibit abnormal coronary artery constriction in response to a 90-s cold pressor test (CPT).
Intervention: Intravenous conjugated estrogens (1.25 mg) vs. placebo.
Measurements and results: Rate-pressure product, coronary cross-sectional area (CSA), and coronary blood flow responses to the CPT were measured before and 15 min after intervention. In 12 men with CPT-induced coronary constriction who were assigned to estrogen, CPT induced a mean 21.8% decrease in coronary CSA (p < 0.01) and a nonsignificant change in coronary flow. After estrogen, the repeated CPT induced a 16.3% increase in CSA (p < 0.01) and a 54.9% increase in flow (p < 0.01). CSA and coronary flow responses to CPT were significantly different before and after estrogen (p < 0.01). In contrast, placebo was not associated with changes in CSA or coronary flow responses to CPT in eight men.
Conclusions: In men, conjugated estrogens acutely abolish abnormal coronary constriction and improve coronary blood flow responses to an exogenous cold stimulus. These results suggest that estrogen favorably alters coronary vasoreactivity in men.