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Keywords:

  • Migraine;
  • coronary artery spasm;
  • coronary arteriography;
  • ergotamine;
  • calcium blockers

Abstract Five patients, all women in their 50s and all with a documented history of migraine headaches, had ischemic chest pains investigated. Four patients had angina primarily occurring at rest, with documented ischemic electrocardiographic changes during pain in all five. Three subjects sustained myocardial infarction, one shortly after taking ergotamine tartrate for an acute attack of migraine. Subsequent coronary angiography in all five subjects revealed no evidence of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, suggestive of spasm as the cause of ischemia.

In subjects with known migraine, the occurrence of chest pain may represent coronary artery spasm, and should be investigated with concurrent electrocardiographs, as these two clinical entities may be related as part of a generalised vasospastic disorder. The use of ergot preparations should be contraindicated in such patients, as exacerbation of chest pain and frank myocardial infarction may result. These chest pains responded favourably to calcium channel blockers. (Aust NZ J Med 1986; 16: 708–710.)