1. A haemodynamic and myocardial metabolic study was performed to compare effects of maximal atrial pacing and the cold pressor test (CPT) in patients with angina pectoris. Twelve patients (group I) had angiographically severe coronary artery disease, while 16 patients (group II) had normal coronary angiograms.
2. At maximal pacing, angina developed in all patients in group I, and myocardial lactate production was found in eight of 12 patients. In group II, 12 out of 16 patients experienced chest pain, but only two patients had myocardial lactate production. Neither angina nor myocardial lactate production was present in any patient in either group during CPT.
3. Coronary sinus flow increased and coronary vascular resistance decreased significantly in both groups at maximal pacing (P<0.001). At CPT, coronary flow decreased (P<0.05) and coronary resistance increased (P<0.001) in group I, while individual response was more variable in group II.
4. In conclusion, maximal pacing was a more effective method of provocation of angina pectoris than CPT. The reactions of coronary sinus flow and coronary vascular resistance were different in group I than in group II. However, because of the variability of response in patients with normal coronary arteries, CPT cannot be used to distinguish patients with coronary artery disease from patients with no such disease.