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Myocardial perfusion in heart disease

Knott, Kristopher D; (2022) Myocardial perfusion in heart disease. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Heart disease: Coronary heart disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the UK and globally. It is managed with medical therapy and coronary revascularisation to reduce symptoms and reduce risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. When patients present with chest pain, it is important to risk stratify those that would most benefit from invasive coronary assessment and those that can be managed with medical therapy alone. Myocardial perfusion techniques have been developed in order to do this. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) with stress perfusion: CMR allows the non-invasive assessment of coronary artery disease (CAD). Under conditions of vasodilator stress, a gadolinium based contrast agent is injected and during the first pass through the left ventricle, perfusion defects can be observed. There is a strong evidence base for perfusion CMR but the technique is qualitative, relies on experienced operators and potentially misses globally low perfusion such as in cases of “balanced” ischaemia. Quantitative perfusion CMR: In contrast, quantitative perfusion techniques allow the calculation of myocardial blood flow (MBF). It is more objective, less reliant on the expert observer and can give additional insights into microvascular disease and cardiomyopathy. As well as being less subjective, quantitative perfusion has other advantages for example it allows full assessment of ischaemic burden and may contain prognostic information that could be used to risk stratify and improve patient care. However, quantitative perfusion has been outside the realm of routine clinical practice due to difficulties in acquiring suitable data for full quantification and the laborious nature of analysing it. Perfusion mapping: Peter Kellman, Hui Xue and colleagues at the National Institutes for Health, USA developed the “perfusion mapping” technique to address these limitations. Perfusion maps are generated automatically and inline during the CMR scan and each voxel encodes myocardial blood flow. This allows the instant quantification of MBF without complex acquisition techniques and post processing. In this thesis I have taken perfusion mapping and deployed in the real-world at a scale an order of magnitude higher than prior quantitative perfusion studies, developing the evidence base for routine clinical use across a broad range of diseases and scenarios: In coronary artery disease: I have shown that perfusion mapping is accurate to detect coronary artery stenosis as defined by 3D quantitative coronary angiography in a single centre, 50 patient study. Transmural and subendocardial perfusion are particularly sensitive to detect coronary stenoses with performances similar to expert readers. There is a high sensitivity and high negative predictive value making perfusion mapping a good “rule-out” test for coronary disease. Quantitative perfusion and prognosis: I investigated whether stress MBF and myocardial perfusion reserve (MPR) calculated by perfusion mapping would encode prognostic information in a 1049 patient multi-centre study over a mean follow up time of 605 days. Both stress MBF and MPR were independently associated with death and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). The hazard ratio for MACE was 2.14 for each 1ml/g/min decrease in stress MBF and 1.74 for each unit decrease in MPR. This work can now be taken forward with prospective studies in order to better risk stratify patients, including those without perfusion defects on clinical read. Reference ranges and non-obstructive coronary disease: I sought to determine the factors that contribute to perfusion in a multi-centre registry study. In patients with no obstructive coronary artery disease, stress MBF was reduced with age, diabetes, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and the use of beta blockers. Rest MBF was influenced by sex (higher in females) and reduced with beta blockers. This study suggests patient factors beyond coronary artery disease (and therefore likely microvascular disease) should also be considered when interpreting quantitative perfusion studies. In cardiomyopathy: I also investigated myocardial perfusion in cardiomyopathy looking at Fabry disease as an example disease. In a prospective, observational, single centre study of 44 patients and 27 controls I found Fabry patients had reduced perfusion (and therefore likely microvascular dysfunction), particularly in the subendocardium and was associated with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), glycophospholipid storage and scar. Perfusion was reduced even in patients without LVH suggesting it is an early disease marker. In conclusion, in this thesis, I have developed an evidence base for quantitative perfusion CMR and demonstrated how it can be integrated into routine clinical care. Perfusion mapping is accurate for detecting coronary artery stenosis and encodes prognostic information. Further work in this area could enable patients to be risk stratified based on their myocardial perfusion in order to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with epicardial and microvascular coronary artery disease. Following on from this work, two further British Heart Foundation Clinical Research Training Fellowships have been awarded to further investigate quantitative perfusion in patients following surgical revascularisation of coronary disease and in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Myocardial perfusion in heart disease
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10160518
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