Prognostic value of fractional flow reserve: linking physiologic severity to clinical outcomes

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Oct 21;64(16):1641-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.07.973.


Background: Fractional flow reserve (FFR) has become an established tool for guiding treatment, but its graded relationship to clinical outcomes as modulated by medical therapy versus revascularization remains unclear.

Objectives: The study hypothesized that FFR displays a continuous relationship between its numeric value and prognosis, such that lower FFR values confer a higher risk and therefore receive larger absolute benefits from revascularization.

Methods: Meta-analysis of study- and patient-level data investigated prognosis after FFR measurement. An interaction term between FFR and revascularization status allowed for an outcomes-based threshold.

Results: A total of 9,173 (study-level) and 6,961 (patient-level) lesions were included with a median follow-up of 16 and 14 months, respectively. Clinical events increased as FFR decreased, and revascularization showed larger net benefit for lower baseline FFR values. Outcomes-derived FFR thresholds generally occurred around the range 0.75 to 0.80, although limited due to confounding by indication. FFR measured immediately after stenting also showed an inverse relationship with prognosis (hazard ratio: 0.86, 95% confidence interval: 0.80 to 0.93; p < 0.001). An FFR-assisted strategy led to revascularization roughly half as often as an anatomy-based strategy, but with 20% fewer adverse events and 10% better angina relief.

Conclusions: FFR demonstrates a continuous and independent relationship with subsequent outcomes, modulated by medical therapy versus revascularization. Lesions with lower FFR values receive larger absolute benefits from revascularization. Measurement of FFR immediately after stenting also shows an inverse gradient of risk, likely from residual diffuse disease. An FFR-guided revascularization strategy significantly reduces events and increases freedom from angina with fewer procedures than an anatomy-based strategy.

Keywords: fractional flow reserve; meta-analysis; prognosis; threshold.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / mortality
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology*
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Treatment Outcome