Coronary microvascular dysfunction in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction

Kathryn Dryer, Mark Gajjar, Nikhil Narang, Margaret Lee, Jonathan Paul, Atman P. Shah, Sandeep Nathan, Javed Butler, Charles J. Davidson, William F. Fearon, Sanjiv J. Shah, John E.A. Blair*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


There are multiple proposed mechanisms for the pathophysiology of heart failure (HF) with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). We hypothesized that coronary microvascular dysfunction is common in these patients. In a prospective, observational study, patients undergoing cardiac catheterization with HFpEF [left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction ≥ 50% and with clinical HF] were compared with similar patients without HFpEF. Patients with ≥50% stenosis were excluded, and coronary flow reserve (CFR) and the index of microvascular resistance (IMR) were measured after adenosine administration using a guidewire, with CFR ≤ 2 and IMR ≥ 23 being abnormal. Baseline characteristics and CFR and IMR were compared in 30 HFpEF patients and 14 control subjects. Compared with control subjects, HFpEF patients were older (65.4 ± 9.6 vs. 55.1 ± 3.1 yr, P < 0.01), had higher numbers of comorbidities (4.4 ± 1.5 vs. 2.6 ± 1.9, P = 0.002), had higher median B-type natriuretic peptide [161 (interquartile range: 75-511) pg/dl vs. 37 (interquartile range: 18.5-111) pg/dl, P < 0.01], and had higher LV end-diastolic pressure (17.8 ± 4.2 vs. 8.4 ± 4.2, P < 0.01). HFpEF patients had lower CFR (2.55 ± 1.60 vs. 3.84 ± 1.89, P = 0.024) and higher IMR (26.7 ± 10.3 vs. 19.7 ± 9.7 units, P = 0.037) than control subjects. Most (71.4%) control subjects had normal coronary physiology, whereas 36.7% of HFpEF patients had both abnormal CFR and IMR and another 36.7% had either abnormal CFR or IMR. In conclusion, this is the first study that has reported invasively determined CFR and IMR in HFpEF patients. We demonstrated the presence of four distinct coronary physiology groups in HFpEF patients. Investigation into the potential mechanisms for these findings is needed. NEW & NOTEWORTHY In this prospective observational study of patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), we found that patients with HFpEF had more abnormalities of coronary flow and resistance than asymptomatic control patients, indicating that coronary microvascular dysfunction may play a role in the HFpEF disease process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1033-H1042
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Heart failure
  • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction
  • Microvascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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