Endothelial function and hemorheological parameters modulate coronary blood flow in patients without significant coronary artery disease


Background: Coronary (micro)vascular resistance is regulated by the complex interplay of several factors. Two potentially important determinants include endothelial function and the rheological properties of blood. However, their impact on the control of the coronary resistance vasculature is poorly understood. Methods: The corrected Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction frame count (TIMIfc, an index of coronary flow velocity), conduit artery endothelial function, intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery and complete blood counts were measured in 145 patients undergoing elective coronary angiography. Patients with obstructive coronary artery disease or systemic conditions thought to be associated with microvascular disease were excluded from the analysis. Results: There was a strong correlation between the TIMIfc measured in the three main coronary artery distributions (R values between 0.71 and 0.85, P < 0.00001). The TIMIfc was higher in males (P < 0.05), but there was no association with traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease (all P > 0.1). There was a correlation between TIMIfc and L-FMC, a parameter of resting endothelial function (R = 0.33, P < 0.0005). TIMIfc also correlated with mean platelet volume (a marker of platelet activation, R = 0.33, P < 0.001), and hematocrit (R = 0.33, P = 0.0002). There was no correlation between TIMIfc and carotid intima-media thickness and the degree of coronary atherosclerosis. Logistic regression analysis showed that L-FMC and hemorheological variables may explain as much as 19% of the variability in TIMIfc. Conclusions: Resting peripheral endothelial function, as well as parameters of platelet function, correlate with coronary TIMIfc. These data emphasize the existence of an association between endothelial function, hemorheological variables and coronary blood flow velocity.
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