Coronary Hemodynamics

  • Nicolaas Westerhof
  • Nikolaos Stergiopulos
  • Mark I. M. Noble
  • Berend E. Westerhof


The relation between mean coronary flow and mean perfusion pressure is under the influence of autonomic, neural and hormonal control. Autoregulation causes the rather constant flow for the physiological range of pressures, and the change in flow with cardiac metabolism. Autonomic coronary flow regulation consists of three mechanisms: metabolic, myogenic and endothelium mediated vasoactivity. The so-called instantaneous pressure-flow relations are obtained in diastole to avoid the effect of cardiac muscle contraction, and describe the state of the coronary bed. Cardiac contraction reduces coronary arterial inflow and augments venous outflow in systole, the ‘intramyocardial pump’. This effect results from three mechanisms: The direct effect of increased muscle stiffening (varying elastance), the indirect effect of increased ventricular pressure producing an intramyocardial (interstitial) pressure in the ventricular wall, and the thickening of the muscle during shortening contractions at the expense of vascular lumen. Cardiac contraction is the main reason why the subendocardial layers are most prone to ischemia.


Autoregulation Instantaneous pressure-flow relation Intramyocardial pump Muscle stiffening Intramyocardial pressure Muscle thickening Ischemia Transmural perfusion Waterfall 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolaas Westerhof
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Stergiopulos
    • 2
  • Mark I. M. Noble
    • 3
  • Berend E. Westerhof
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Amsterdam Cardiovascular SciencesVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Laboratory of Hemodynamics and Cardiovascular TechnologyEcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Institute of BioengineeringLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine and TherapeuticsUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUnited Kingdom

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