Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD)

What is Coronary Microvascular Disease?

MVD, also known as small vessel disease or microangiopathy, is a type of coronary heart disease that is affects the very small arteries, the arterioles and capillaries. The walls of the heart’s smallest arteries are damaged and/or diseased.

Symptoms

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with coronary MVD than men and it appears to be linked to a drop in estrogen levels during menopause alongside traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes. Patients who have chest pain and other symptoms of heart disease without coronary obstructions many times have MVD. Because of the atypical presentation of the disease, it is often hard to diagnose and therefore many patients who have MVD are undiagnosed and are not seeking treatment for the disease.

Diagnosing MVD

A stress test is the first diagnostic test used to detect MVD. If the test shows an abnormality, patients may undergo a cardiac catheterization. If there is no coronary obstruction, physicians will perform a flow study to see if the blood flow that feeds into the tiny heart vessels are narrowed or not dilating enough to provide adequate blood flow to the heart.

Treatments

Research is being done to study this disease and learn more about how heart disease is affected by hormonal changes. In addition, researchers are searching for the most effective ways of treating patients with this disease. Currently, medical management is the best way to treat MVD because surgery and angioplasty are not effective. Physicians also work with the patient to develop healthy habits that will help reduce the underlying conditions that contribute to MVD. Maintaining a heart healthy diet, exercise, stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy cholesterol level, eating a low sodium diet and reducing stress in your life are all ways to reduce the risk factors for the disease.

Physician Team

A skilled team of physicians and staff at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center are leaders in the treatment of MVD.

Watch Joan Jahnke’s story of living with MVD