Relation of vessel wall shear stress to atherosclerosis progression in human coronary arteries.
The purpose of this study was to determine the relation between vessel wall shear stress and the rate of atherosclerosis progression. Quantitative angiography was used to calculate the change in coronary arterial diameter over 3.0 years in patients enrolled in the Harvard Atherosclerosis Reversibility Project pilot study (n = 20 arterial segments). Vessel wall shear stress was calculated by means of a validated finite-difference model of the Navier-Stokes' equation that assumes a coronary flow rate of 8 ml/sec. The correlation between vessel wall shear stress and the change in arterial diameter at multiple points (mean, 70) along the length of the artery was then calculated for each of the 20 segments with a focal stenosis. In 15 of the 20 arterial segments there was a significant correlation (p < 0.05) between low shear stress and an increased rate of atherosclerosis progression. A Fisher's z transformation was then used to combine the correlation coefficients from all 20 segments. Low shear stress was significantly correlated (z = 0.37 +/- 0.00074, p < 0.0001) with an increased rate of atherosclerosis progression. This serial quantitative evaluation of human coronary arteries is consistent with previous data that have suggested that low shear stress promotes atherosclerosis progression. Variations in local vessel wall shear stress may explain the previously reported near-independent rate of atherosclerosis progression in multiple lesions within the same patient despite exposure to the same circulating lipoprotein values and systemic hemodynamics.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association