Aims/hypothesis: Coronary flow reserve (CFR) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) represent functional and structural aspects of atherosclerosis. We examined the prevalence of reduced CFR and high CAC scores in three predefined groups of participants without known cardiovascular disease: (1) patients with type 2 diabetes and albuminuria; (2) patients with type 2 diabetes and normoalbuminuria; and (3) non-diabetic controls.
Methods: In a cross-sectional design, cardiac (82)Rb positron emission tomography/computed tomography was conducted in 60 patients with type 2 diabetes who were free of overt cardiovascular disease and who were stratified by normoalbuminuria (<30 mg/24 h) (n = 30; age [mean ± SD] 60.9 ± 10.1 years) and albuminuria (≥ 30 mg/24 h) (n = 30; age 65.6 ± 4.8 years), and in 30 healthy, non-diabetic controls (age 59.8 ± 9.9 years).
Results: In controls, normoalbuminuric and albuminuric patients, CFR was 3.0 ± 0.8, 2.6 ± 0.8 and 2.0 ± 0.5, respectively. Reduced CFR (<2.5) was observed in 16.7%, 40.0% and 83.3% of participants, respectively, and median (interquartile range) CAC scores were 0 (0-81), 36 (1-325) and 370 (152-1,025), respectively (p for trend <0.01). After adjustment, the difference in CFR and CAC between albuminuric patients and controls remained significant (p ≤ 0.001). There were trends towards lower CFR and higher CAC scores in normoalbuminuric patients vs controls (p ≤ 0.023) and towards higher CAC scores in albuminuric vs normoalbuminuric patients (p = 0.026). In multivariate regression analysis, a higher urinary albumin excretion rate (UAER) tended to predict reduced CFR in the total population (p = 0.045). When the CAC score was added, there was also a trend (p = 0.032) towards an inverse association with reduced CFR.
Conclusions/interpretation: Type 2 diabetic patients who were free of overt cardiovascular disease had a high prevalence of coronary microvascular dysfunction, especially with concomitant albuminuria, suggesting a common microvascular impairment occurring in multiple microvascular beds. Prospective studies are needed to show the prognostic significance of this finding.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Coronary artery calcium score; Coronary flow reserve; Coronary microcirculation; Microalbuminuria; Microvascular disease; PET/CT; Type 2 diabetes.