Peripheral vascular endothelial function testing as a noninvasive indicator of coronary artery disease

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Dec;38(7):1843-9. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(01)01657-6.


Objectives: We studied whether assessment of endothelium-dependent vasomotion (EDV) with brachial artery ultrasound (BAUS) imaging predicts the presence or absence of coronary artery disease (CAD) as defined by exercise myocardial perfusion imaging (ExMPI).

Background: Abnormalities in EDV can be detected in arteries before the development of overt atherosclerosis, and its presence may predict poor long-term prognosis. Brachial artery ultrasound during reactive hyperemia is a noninvasive method of assessing peripheral EDV.

Methods: Clinically-indicated ExMPI along with BAUS were performed in 94 subjects (43 women, 51 men). Coronary artery disease was defined by myocardial ischemia or infarction on single photon emission computed tomography images. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) after upper arm occlusion was defined as the percent change in arterial diameter during reactive hyperemia relative to the baseline.

Results: Subjects with CAD by ExMPI (n = 23) had a lower FMD (6.3 +/- 0.7%) than those without CAD by ExMPI (n = 71) (10.5 +/- 0.6%; p = 0.0004). Flow-mediated dilation was highly predictive for CAD with an odds ratio of 1.32 for each percent decrease in FMD (p = 0.001). Based on a receiver-operator analysis, an FMD of 10% was used as a cut-point for further analysis. Twenty-one of 23 subjects who were positive for ExMPI had an FMD < 10% (sensitivity 91%), whereas only two of 40 subjects with an FMD > or =10% were ExMPI-positive (negative predictive value: 95%). There was a correlation between the number of cardiac risk factors and FMD. Individuals with an FMD < 10% exercised for a shorter duration than those with an FMD > or =10% (456 +/- 24 vs. 544 +/- 31 s, respectively; p = 0.02).

Conclusions: Assessment of EDV with BAUS has a high sensitivity and an excellent negative predictive value for CAD and, thus, has the potential for use as a screening tool to exclude CAD in low-risk subjects. Further standardization of BAUS is required, however, before specific cut-points for excluding CAD can be established.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Brachial Artery / physiopathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology*