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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Feb;298(2):H524-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00486.2009. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

Transthoracic Doppler echocardiography to noninvasively assess coronary vasoconstrictor and dilator responses in humans.

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  • 1Penn State Heart & Vascular Institute, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, The Milton S. HersheyMedical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA.


Human studies of coronary circulation are limited because of methodological issues. Recently, a noninvasive transthoracic duplex ultrasound (TTD) technique has emerged as an important tool to measure coronary blood flow velocity (CBV) in conscious humans. We employed two protocols to determine whether noninvasive "native" coronary artery velocity responses to constrictor or dilator stimuli assessed by TTD provide reliable data. In the first protocol, coronary vascular resistance (CVR = diastolic blood pressure/CBV) responses to static handgrip were examined in the left internal mammary artery (LIMA) and native left anterior descending artery (LAD) into which the graft was inserted (patient age 63 +/- 3 years). Our prior report documented increased CVR in the LIMA graft during static handgrip (Momen et al., J Appl Physiol 102: 735-739, 2007). We hypothesized that the magnitude of increases in CVR during handgrip would be similar in the LIMA graft and LAD in the same individual. Percent increases in CVR were similar in the LIMA and distal native LAD (27 +/- 4% vs. 28 +/- 6%). In the second protocol, we studied six patients (age 61 +/- 3 years) who underwent cardiac catheterization of the LAD. We compared coronary vasodilator responses to intravenous adenosine infusion (0.14 obtained by intracoronary Doppler guidewire technique and TTD on separate studies. The relative increases in CBV with adenosine obtained by intracoronary Doppler guidewire and TTD were similar (62 +/- 10% vs. 65 +/- 12%). Noninvasive TTD provides reliable human coronary circulatory constrictor and dilator data.

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