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31st January 2022

Improving Care for Patients with Coronary Artery Spasm

Alex Minopoulos

Research underway by PhD candidate Alex Minopoulos from the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research will help deliver a less invasive diagnosis method for coronary artery spasm (CAS) for patients.

CAS is a specific type of heart disease where the arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood (ie the coronary arteries) temporarily narrow (ie spasm), resulting in chest pain. If prolonged, part of the heart muscle can be damaged due to being deprived of oxygen.

People with CAS have poor health outcomes and usually an impaired quality of life. It’s a health condition that is often difficult to diagnose, unless a specialised spasm test is undertaken, which requires the insertion of tubes into the heart (coronary angiography). Although this invasive procedure is a key diagnostic test, it is not without risk.

Alex’s research, proudly funded by AHR, is looking into new, non-invasive ways to diagnose CAS, such as a blood test.

“Throughout my research I will be testing to see whether a marker of CAS, called ‘rho-kinase’ can be measured by a blood test,” Alex said.

“If we can validate and characterise this type of enzyme we can then eventually develop a blood test to tell if patients are at risk for coronary artery spasm.

“To date, rho-kinase has not been conclusively confirmed as a biomarker for coronary artery spasm so this is quite a new and exciting study.”

Alex will be conducting his research by obtaining blood samples from the CADOSA (Coronary Angiogram Database of South Australia) database, proudly funded by AHR.

“CADOSA is the only coronary angiogram database in South Australia which is incredibly important for research,” Alex said.

“This database gives us access to a large range of clinical details from patients, and continues to help us conduct our work to deliver life-changing and lifesaving outcomes.

“Not only this, but CADOSA encompasses both a database and a biobank, giving researchers access to patient samples to help assess risk factors for cardiovascular research.”

Alex’s research has been made possible thanks to the generous support of our donor community! If you would like to support researchers like Alex, click here or call (08) 8244 0591 for more information.