Small vessel disease is a condition in which the walls of the small arteries in the heart are damaged. The condition causes signs and symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain (angina). It’s sometimes called a coronary microvascular disease or small vessel heart disease.
New research has shown abnormalities in the tiny blood vessels of human hearts in regions well beyond the large arteries with atherosclerotic blockages that provoke the need for stents or bypass surgery. The findings could associate with the development of new treatments for patients with angina-like symptoms without blockages or those recovering from a heart attack or unexplained heart failure.
The myogenic tone is the ability of the vascular smooth muscle (VSM) layer of a blood vessel to constrict when the vessel is radially stretched due to intravascular pressure and is dependent on an influx of calcium into the VSM. Myogenic tone controls blood flow distribution within the heart muscle, and in other parts of the human body.
Current heart scans can determine blockages in large coronary arteries, but they can’t demonstrate these tiny, micro-arteries in patients, making it impossible to diagnose poor myogenic tone, which is thought to develop an independent disease in the larger arteries. This study used tissue biopsies to study the function, structure, and alterations in pathways in the micro-arteries that link to abnormalities in myogenic tone.