Microvascular dysfunction, myocardial ischemia, and progression to heart failure in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2009 Dec;2(4):452-61. doi: 10.1007/s12265-009-9142-5. Epub 2009 Nov 3.


Microvascular dysfunction can be demonstrated in most patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), both in the hypertrophied and nonhypertrophied myocardial walls, mostly due to intimal and medial hyperplasia of the intramural coronary arteries and subsequent lumen reduction. As a consequence, regional myocardial ischemia may be triggered by exercise, increased heart rate, or arrhythmias, in areas which are unable to increase myocardial blood flow. In patients with HCM, microvascular dysfunction leading to severe myocardial hypoperfusion during maximal hyperemia represents a strong predictor of unfavorable outcome, left ventricular remodeling with progressive wall thinning, left ventricular dysfunction, and heart failure. Accurate quantitative assessment of microvascular dysfunction and myocardial ischemia is not easily feasible in clinical practice. Although signs of inducible myocardial ischemia may be detected by electrocardiogram, echocardiography, or myocardial scintigraphy, the vasodilator response to dipyridamole by positron emission tomography is considered the method of choice for the assessment of maximal regional and global flow. Cardiac magnetic resonance provides further information, by late gadolinium enhancement (LGE), which may show areas where replacement fibrosis has occurred following microvascular ischemia and focal necrosis. LGE areas colocalize with severe regional microvascular dysfunction, are associated with increased prevalence of ventricular arrhythmias, and show more extensive distribution in the late stages of the disease, when heart failure is the dominant feature. The present review aims to provide a concise overview of the available evidence of microvascular dysfunction and ischemia eventually leading to disease progression and heart failure in HCM patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / complications*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / physiopathology
  • Coronary Circulation
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise
  • Heart Failure / etiology*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation
  • Microvessels / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / etiology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Ventricular Outflow Obstruction / etiology
  • Ventricular Outflow Obstruction / physiopathology