PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The natural history of coronary atherosclerosis is complex and atherosclerotic plaques exhibit large morphologic and functional variability within the same individual as well as over time. The purpose of this article is to review the role of blood flow patterns and shear stress on the development of microvascular and epicardial endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis progression.
RECENT FINDINGS: Recent breakthroughs in cardiovascular imaging have facilitated in-vivo characterization of the anatomic and functional characteristics of atherosclerotic plaques and have highlighted the role of endothelial shear stress and epicardial and microvascular endothelial dysfunction in the natural history of coronary atherosclerosis.
SUMMARY: There is an important need to identify individual lesions which may progress to vulnerable plaque in order to provide early therapeutic management. Evaluation of endothelial shear stress, local blood flow patterns, epicardial and microvascular endothelial dysfunction, as well as their complex associations might indicate those patients who have microvascular endothelial dysfunction and increased risk for upstream epicardial endothelial dysfunction and plaque progression. Such high-risk patients could potentially be targeted for more intensive therapeutic strategies to prevent the progression of both microvascular and epicardial atherosclerotic manifestations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine