Pathophysiology, classification, and MRI parallels in microvascular disease of the heart and brain

Michael A Thomas, Saman Hazany, Benjamin M Ellingson, Peng Hu, Kim-Lien Nguyen
Microcirculation: the Official Journal of the Microcirculatory Society, Inc 2020 July 8, : e12648
Diagnostic imaging technology in vascular disease has long focused on large vessels and the pathologic processes that impact them. With improved diagnostic techniques, investigators are now able to uncover many underlying mechanisms and prognostic factors for microvascular disease. In the heart and brain, these pathologic entities include coronary microvascular disease and cerebral small vessel disease, both of which have significant impact on patients, causing angina, myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, and dementia. In the current paper, we will discuss parallels in pathophysiology, classification, and diagnostic modalities, with a focus on the role of magnetic resonance imaging in microvascular disease of the heart and brain. Novel approaches for streamlined imaging of the cardiac and central nervous systems including the use of intravascular contrast agents such as ferumoxytol are presented, and unmet research gaps in diagnostics are summarized.

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