Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi-1684858034273
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) has launched a microvascular and coronary spasm testing programme to help patients who have been suffering from years with unexplained chest illnesses.

The Invasive Microvascular and Coronary Spasm Programme evaluates patients for cardiac disorders that cause angina because coronary arteries are either spasming down or failing to dilate adequately. Such conditions can otherwise go undetected in routine cardiac tests, the hospital said in a statement on Tuesday.

CCAD has therefore introduced a complete microvascular dysfunction and coronary spasm programme. The highly sophisticated testing method calls for specialised interventional cardiologists, along with specialised equipment that can screen for abnormalities in the large coronary arteries, as well as in extremely minute arteries that are undetectable to the human eye.

Without sophisticated testing, these conditions will not be detected by the standard coronary artery angiogram, and patients will end up suffering from recurrent chest pain that is incorrectly attributed to conditions such as stress and anxiety.

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Who is at greater risk?

According to experts at the hospital, the prevalence of these conditions appears to be higher in women. Those who smoke, have diabetes, or are hypertensive are also more likely to have microvascular angina or coronary spasms, which predisposes them to a higher risk of having a cardiac event.

Dr Ronney Shantouf, staff physician for cardiovascular medicine at CCAD’s Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute: “While the conversation about this condition is not new in the field of cardiology, it is becoming more widely discussed and investigated, and therefore we’re finding that this is not a rare condition as once thought. From what we’ve seen across the Cleveland Clinic network, it’s estimated that a significant number of patients who have angina may have some degree of microvascular disease or spasm."

"It is often missed or undiagnosed due to the nature of its symptoms and needs a specialised cardiologist and advanced technology to be identified these. In the past people may have been told it was a mental or ‘phantom’ illness and to visit a psychiatrist to understand the cause for unexplained chest pain, only to discover after specialised testing that they have this condition."

Dr Ashraf Al Azzoni, staff physician for cardiovascular medicine at the CCAD, said: "We are proud to bring this sophisticated microvascular dysfunction and coronary spasm testing capability to the region through Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. While some treatments for microvascular dysfunction exists in the UAE today, this unique advanced program provides new capabilities and the latest innovation in medical technology to ensure a specific diagnosis is provided to improve patients’ quality of life. Accurate diagnosis is then supported by effective treatment options that include medications and lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms and restore a good quality of life."

A variety of disciplines form part of the programme, including interventional cardiology, women’s cardiology and cardiovascular imaging. The program also draws on the expertise of a similar program offered at Cleveland Clinic in the US.

Dr Shantouf advised peope experiencing any unusual and recurring chest pains to immediately seek professional help from a specialist, especifically if they fall into any high-risk category.