Natural History of Patients with Ischemia and No Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease: The CIAO-ISCHEMIA Study

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Background: Ischemia with no obstructive coronary artery disease (INOCA) is common and has an adverse prognosis. We set out to describe the natural history of symptoms and ischemia in INOCA.

Methods: CIAO-ISCHEMIA (Changes in Ischemia and Angina over One year in ISCHEMIA trial screen failures with INOCA) was an international cohort study conducted from 2014-2019 involving angina assessments (Seattle Angina Questionnaire [SAQ]) and stress echocardiograms 1-year apart. This was an ancillary study that included patients with history of angina who were not randomized in the ISCHEMIA trial. Stress-induced wall motion abnormalities were determined by an echocardiographic core laboratory blinded to symptoms, coronary artery disease (CAD) status and test timing. Medical therapy was at the discretion of treating physicians. The primary outcome was the correlation between changes in SAQ Angina Frequency score and change in echocardiographic ischemia. We also analyzed predictors of 1-year changes in both angina and ischemia, and compared CIAO participants with ISCHEMIA participants with obstructive CAD who had stress echocardiography before enrollment, as CIAO participants did.

Results: INOCA participants in CIAO were more often female (66% of 208 vs. 26% of 865 ISCHEMIA participants with obstructive CAD, p<0.001), but the magnitude of ischemia was similar (median 4 ischemic segments [IQR 3-5] both groups). Ischemia and angina were not significantly correlated at enrollment in CIAO (p=0.46) or ISCHEMIA stress echocardiography participants (p=0.35). At 1 year, the stress echocardiogram was normal in half of CIAO participants and 23% had moderate or severe ischemia (≥3 ischemic segments). Angina improved in 43% and worsened in 14%. Change in ischemia over one year was not significantly correlated with change in angina (rho=0.029).

Conclusions: Improvement in ischemia and improvement in angina were common in INOCA, but not correlated. Our INOCA cohort had a similar degree of inducible wall motion abnormalities to concurrently enrolled ISCHEMIA participants with obstructive CAD. Our results highlight the complex nature of INOCA pathophysiology and the multifactorial nature of angina.


Clinical Trial Registration: URL:

Unique Identifier: NCT02347215.


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ePub ahead of print