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    Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction

    Journal of Clinical Medicine ,2020

    Many patients with chest pain undergoing coronary angiography do not show significant obstructive coronary lesions. A substantial proportion of these patients have abnormalities in the function and structure of coronary microcirculation due to endothelial and smooth muscle cell dysfunction.

    The coronary microcirculation has a fundamental role in the regulation of coronary blood flow in response to cardiac oxygen requirements. Impairment of this mechanism, defined as coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD), carries an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular clinical outcomes.

    Coronary endothelial dysfunction accounts for approximately two-thirds of clinical conditions presenting with symptoms and signs of myocardial ischemia without obstructive coronary disease, termed “ischemia with non-obstructive coronary artery disease” (INOCA) and for a small proportion of “myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary artery disease” (MINOCA).

    More frequently, the clinical presentation of INOCA is microvascular angina due to CMD, while some patients present vasospastic angina due to epicardial spasm, and mixed epicardial and microvascular forms.

    CMD may be associated with focal and diffuse epicardial coronary atherosclerosis, which may reinforce each other. Both INOCA and MINOCA are more common in females. Clinical classification of CMD includes the association with conditions in which atherosclerosis has limited relevance, with non-obstructive atherosclerosis, and with obstructive atherosclerosis.
    Several studies already exist which support the evidence that CMD is part of systemic microvascular disease involving multiple organs, such as brain and kidney. Moreover, CMD is strongly associated with the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), diabetes, hypertensive heart disease, and also chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
    Since coronary microcirculation is not visible on invasive angiography or computed tomographic coronary angiography (CTCA), the diagnosis of CMD is usually based on functional assessment of microcirculation, which can be performed by both invasive and non-invasive methods, including the assessment of delayed flow of contrast during angiography, measurement of coronary flow reserve (CFR) and index of microvascular resistance (IMR), evaluation of angina induced by intracoronary acetylcholine infusion, and assessment of myocardial perfusion by positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance (CMR).

    G Mohan

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