Wave speed in human coronary arteries is not influenced by microvascular vasodilation: implications for wave intensity analysis

Basic Res Cardiol. 2014 Mar;109(2):405. doi: 10.1007/s00395-014-0405-1. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Wave intensity analysis and wave separation are powerful tools for interrogating coronary, myocardial and microvascular physiology. Wave speed is integral to these calculations and is usually estimated by the single-point technique (SPc), a feasible but as yet unvalidated approach in coronary vessels. We aimed to directly measure wave speed in human coronary arteries and assess the impact of adenosine and nitrate administration. In 14 patients, the transit time Δt between two pressure signals was measured in angiographically normal coronary arteries using a microcatheter equipped with two high-fidelity pressure sensors located Δs = 5 cm apart. Simultaneously, intracoronary pressure and flow velocity were measured with a dual-sensor wire to derive SPc. Actual wave speed was calculated as DNc = Δs/Δt. Hemodynamic signals were recorded at baseline and during adenosine-induced hyperemia, before and after nitroglycerin administration. The energy of separated wave intensity components was assessed using SPc and DNc. At baseline, DNc equaled SPc (15.9 ± 1.8 vs. 16.6 ± 1.5 m/s). Adenosine-induced hyperemia lowered SPc by 40 % (p < 0.005), while DNc remained unchanged, leading to marked differences in respective separated wave energies. Nitroglycerin did not affect DNc, whereas SPc transiently fell to 12.0 ± 1.2 m/s (p < 0.02). Human coronary wave speed is reliably estimated by SPc under resting conditions but not during adenosine-induced vasodilation. Since coronary wave speed is unaffected by microvascular dilation, the SPc estimate at rest can serve as surrogate for separating wave intensity signals obtained during hyperemia, thus greatly extending the scope of WIA to study coronary physiology in humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / administration & dosage
  • Aged
  • Angina, Stable / physiopathology
  • Angina, Stable / therapy
  • Coronary Vessels / drug effects
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia / chemically induced
  • Hyperemia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / drug effects
  • Microcirculation / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Nitroglycerin / administration & dosage
  • Pulse Wave Analysis / methods*
  • Vascular Resistance / drug effects
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology
  • Vasodilation / drug effects
  • Vasodilation / physiology*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Adenosine