Is right coronary artery hypoplasia and sudden death an underdiagnosed association?

  • Wick R
  • Otto S
  • Byard R
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Abstract

Determining whether hypoplasia of a coronary artery has caused or contributed to death is often complicated by an absence of histologic evidence of myocardial ischemia in the area of the heart supplied by the affected artery and also by the lack of data for assessing coronary artery size at autopsy. A 45-year-old woman is reported who collapsed and died and who was found at autopsy to have a dominant, small-caliber, right coronary artery, with acute and chronic ischemic changes in the posterior interventricular septum supplied by the diminutive vessel. This case provides evidence that small-caliber coronary arteries may be associated with a lethal outcome. Given the difficulties that may occur in determining whether there is a causal link between small coronary artery caliber and death, it is possible that this may be an underdiagnosed cause of sudden cardiac death, rather than a coincidental finding of minimal significance.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coronary artery anomaly
  • Hypoplastic coronary artery
  • Sudden death

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Authors

  • Regula Wick

  • Sophie Otto

  • Roger W. Byard

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