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Hyperventilation with a subsequent breath-hold has been successfully used as a non-pharmacological vasoactive stimulus to induce changes in myocardial oxygenation. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess if this maneuver is feasible in patients with multi-vessel coronary artery disease (CAD), and if it is effective at detecting coronary artery stenosis > 50% determined by quantitative coronary angiography (QCA).
Twenty-six patients with coronary artery stenosis (QCA > 50% diameter stenosis) underwent a contrast-free cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) exam in the time interval between their primary coronary angiography and a subsequent percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, n = 24) or coronary artery bypass (CABG, n = 2) revascularization procedure. The CMR exam involved standard function imaging, myocardial strain analysis, T2 mapping, native T1 mapping and oxygenation-sensitive CMR (OS-CMR) imaging. During OS-CMR, participants performed a paced hyperventilation for 60s followed by a breath-hold to induce a vasoactive stimulus. Ten healthy subjects underwent the CMR protocol as the control group.
All CAD patients completed the breathing maneuvers with an average breath-hold duration of 48 ± 23 s following hyperventilation and without any complications or adverse effects. In comparison to healthy subjects, CAD patients had a significantly attenuated global myocardial oxygenation response to both hyperventilation (− 9.6 ± 6.8% vs. -3.1 ± 6.5%, p = 0.012) and apnea (11.3 ± 6.1% vs. 2.1 ± 4.4%, p < 0.001). The breath-hold maneuver unmasked regional oxygenation differences in territories subtended by a stenotic coronary artery in comparison to remote territory within the same patient (0.5 ± 3.8 vs. 3.8 ± 5.3%, p = 0.011).
Breathing maneuvers in conjunction with OS-CMR are clinically feasible in CAD patients. Furthermore, OS-CMR demonstrates myocardial oxygenation abnormalities in regional myocardium related to CAD without the use of pharmacologic vasodilators or contrast agents. A larger trial appears warranted for a better understanding of its diagnostic utility.
Clinical Trials Identifier: NCT02233634, registered 8 September 2014.