Effects of hypertension and aging on coronary arteriolar density.
Coronary reserve has been shown repeatedly to be depressed in hypertension and aging. The underlying mechanisms remain elusive, but structural alterations of the coronary vasculature have been implicated. In this study, we measured maximal coronary dilator capacity and structural characteristics relevant to coronary resistance in aging normotensive (Wistar-Kyoto, n = 22) and spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) strains (n = 25) at 1.5, 4, 11, 16, and 22 months of age. Coronary flow measurements, using radiolabeled microspheres, demonstrated a significant (p < 0.01) hypertension- and age-related decline in maximal coronary dilator capacity. After flow measurements, vascular dimensions and arteriolar density were obtained from 1-micron sections prepared from perfusion-fixed hearts. A total of 10,012 arterioles were analyzed, 4,820 in hypertensive and 5,192 in normotensive rats. There was an 18-28% reduction in arteriolar density in hypertensive rats that specifically affected the terminal arteriolar bed at 1.5-11 months. However, the decrement in arteriolar density stabilized at 10% and 6% in 16- and 22-month-old hypertensive rats, respectively. Arteriolar density was not affected by aging. In both strains, there was a significant (p < 0.01) age-related decrease in the ratio of lumen diameter to wall thickness in arterioles > 50 microns. In addition, there was an overall 30% decrease (p < 0.01) in the ratio of lumen diameter to wall thickness in hypertensive compared with normotensive rats. These data indicate that both hypertension and aging are accompanied by structural alterations of the coronary resistance vasculature. These structural alterations may contribute to the depression in coronary reserve that complicates hypertension and aging.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association