Patients with essential arterial hypertension demonstrate abnormal vasodilator capacity either during increased cardiac metabolic demand or during pharmacological vasodilation. Structural and functional damage to the coronary microcirculation has been proposed as one of the major causes of impaired coronary reserve in this disease. To assess the role of microvascular impairment in regional myocardial blood flow (MBF), 27 patients with essential hypertension were evaluated by dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) at rest, during atrial pacing and after dipyridamole infusion and compared with 13 healthy subjects. All patients had normal coronary arteries, 17 had moderate to severe hypertension and 10 had mild hypertension. Baseline mean MBF of 0.97 ± 0.25 ml/min/g was significantly increased to 1.60 ± 0.38 during atrial pacing and 2.35 ± 0.95 after dipyridamole infusion (p <0.01); however, mean flow during atrial pacing and after dipyridamole infusion was significantly lower than in healthy subjects (2.15 ± 0.73 and 3.71 ± 0.86 ml/min/g, p <0.05 and p <0.01, respectively). The MBF response to atrial pacing and dipyridamole infusion was similarly depressed in patients with mild and severe hypertension. The study was repeated after 6 months of antihypertensive treatment with the calcium antagonist verapamil or the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor enalapril in a subgroup of 20 patients as part of a randomised, single-blind clinical trial. This study is still in progress; the initial 16 patients treated with verapamil or enalapril showed an obvious improvement in MBF values during atrial pacing and after dipyridamole infusion after 6 months of therapy (mean MBF: 2.10 ± 0.64 and 2.99 ± 1.63 ml/min/g. respectively, p <0.05 vs pretreatment values). In conclusion, obvious impairment of MBF during atrial pacing and after dipyridamole infusion was observed in hypertensive patients with normal coronary arteries and this appeared unrelated to the severity of hypertension. Therapy with verapamil or enalapril improved coronary reserve and MBF response to an increase in myocardial oxygen demand.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis