Over the past decades, secondary prevention of cardiovascular (CV) disease has improved and considerably reduced mortality rates. However, there remains a high-rate of new or recurrent CV events in those with established atherosclerotic vascular diseases. Although most of the prevailing therapies target the conventional risk factors, there is notable interindividual heterogeneity in adaptation to risk factors and response to therapies, which affects efficacy. It is desirable to have a methodology for directly assessing the functional significance of atherogenesis, and for managing individual patients based on their comprehensive vascular health. Endothelial function plays a pivotal role in all stages of atherosclerosis, from initiation to atherothrombotic complication. Endothelial function reflects the integrated effect of all the atherogenic and atheroprotective factors present in an individual, and is therefore regarded as an index of active disease process and a significant risk factor for future CV events. Moreover, improvement in endothelial function is associated with decreased risk of CV events, even in the secondary prevention setting. The introduction of endothelial function assessment into clinical practice may trigger the development of a more tailored and personalized medicine and improve patient outcomes. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on the contribution of endothelial dysfunction to atherosclerotic CV disease in the secondary prevention setting. Finally, we focus on the potential of an endothelial function-guided management strategy in secondary prevention.
- Coronary artery disease
- Endothelial function
- Secondary prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine