Age-related changes in the coronary microcirculation influencing the diagnostic performance of invasive pressure-based indices and long-term patient prognosis

Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2022 Dec;100(7):1195-1205. doi: 10.1002/ccd.30445. Epub 2022 Oct 23.


Objectives: Investigate age-related changes in coronary microvascular function, its effect on hyperemic and non-hyperemic indices of stenosis relevance, and its prognostic implications.

Background: Evidence assessing the effect of age on fractional flow reserve (FFR), resting mean distal intracoronary pressure/mean aortic pressure (Pd/Pa), and microcirculatory function remains scarce.

Methods: This is a post hoc study of a large prospective international registry (NCT03690713) including 1134 patients (1326 vessels) with coronary stenoses interrogated with pressure and flow guidewires. Age-dependent correlations with functional indices were analyzed. Prevalences of FFR, resting Pd/Pa, and coronary flow reserve (CFR) classification agreement were assessed. At 5 years follow-up, the relation between resting Pd/Pa, CFR, and their age-dependent implications on FFR-guided percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) deferral (deferred if FFR > 0.80) were investigated using vessel-oriented composite outcomes (VOCO) composed of death, myocardial infarction, and repeated revascularization.

Results: Age correlated positively with FFR (r = 0.08, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.03 to 0.13, p = 0.005), but not with resting Pd/Pa (r = -0.03, 95% CI:-0.09 to 0.02, p = 0.242). CFR correlated negatively with age (r = -0.15, 95% CI: -0.21 to -0.10, p < 0.001) due to a significant decrease in maximal hyperemic flow in older patients. Patients over 60 years of age with FFR-guided deferred-PCI abnormal resting Pd/Pa or abnormal CFR had increased risk of VOCO (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.10, 95% CI: 1.15 to 4.36, p = 0.048; HR: 2.46, 95% CI:1.23 to 4.96, p = 0.011; respectively).

Conlusions: Aging is associated with decrease in microcirculatory vasodilation, as assessed with adenosine-based methods like CFR. In patients older than 60 years in whom PCI is deferred according to FFR > 0.80, CFR and resting Pd/Pa have an incremental value in predicting future vessel-oriented patient outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Stenosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Stenosis* / therapy
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial*
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia*
  • Microcirculation
  • Middle Aged
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome