Aims: A number of risk factors for atherosclerosis have been identified, but it remains difficult, on an individual patient basis, to predict how these factors interact in determining the development of coronary artery disease (CAD). It also remains unclear whether the study of endothelial function provides information that is additive to that of traditional risk factors.
Methods and results: Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and low-flow-mediated constriction (L-FMC) were measured in 451 consecutive patients before coronary angiography. Low-flow-mediated constriction (P< 0.0001) and FMD (P=0.0005) progressively decreased with the number of diseased vessels, and L-FMC showed a significant linear correlation with the SYNTAX score (R=0.38; P< 0.0001). Logistic regression analysis confirmed the association between endothelial function parameters and CAD (P=0.001 for L-FMC, P=0.02 for FMD). Receiver operating characteristic analysis demonstrated that the addition of L-FMC alone and of the combination of FMD and L-FMC improved the predictive power of a model based on traditional risk factors for CAD (area under the curve of the risk factor model=0.716; risk factor model + FMD=0.734, P=0.1 compared with risk factor model; risk factor model + L-FMC=0.771, P=0.004; risk factor model + L-FMC + FMD=0.779, P=0.002). Reclassification statistics showed that the introduction of FMD to the model based on the traditional risk factors correctly reclassified an additional 5% of patients, and that the introduction of L-FMC net correctly reclassified 19% of the patients. There was no correlation between different parameters of endothelial function.
Conclusion: Endothelial function assessment provides modest but statistically significant additional information in predicting the presence of CAD.