Chest pain with no blockage still dangerous

A lot of people have chest pain, but find out that their arteries aren't blocked. It's called non-obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). A new study finds people who experience non-obstructive "cad" are still at a significantly increased risk of having a heart attack or dying within a year compared to someone who shows no signs of it.

"We need to be addressing those people who have even just the start of some plaque, or buildup of blockages, even if it's not considered significant or obstructive," said Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Dr. David Frid, who did not take part in the study.

Researchers at the Veterans Administration's Eastern Colorado Health Care System studied nearly 38,000 people who underwent elective coronary angiography, which is a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside of blood vessels. Results show 22% of them had non-obstructive cad and 55% had obstructive CAD.

They also found those with non-obstructive CAD had anywhere from a two to four-fold increase for a heart attack or death. Frid agrees with researchers who say the findings stress the importance of preventive strategies.

"Even if your cholesterol is OK it may not be OK for you. Even if you have borderline blood pressure maybe that needs to be treated. If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, you need to be doing better with the risk factors that you have for heart disease," Frid explained.