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Regulation of coronary blood flow
  1. Richard Gorlin1
  1. Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.


    Coronary blood flow is dependent upon arterial pressure, diastolic time, and small vessel resistance. The system is regulated to achieve a low flow high oxygen extraction and low myocardial Po2. This setting is sensitive to change in oxygen needs. Regulation of blood flow occurs primarily through local intrinsic regulation, most likely through production of vasodilating metabolites in response to minimal degrees of ischaemia. Local regulation appears to dominate over remote regulation in most circumstances. Blood flow distribution to the myocardium is depth dependent as well as regional in variation. Both types of distribution of blood flow are profoundly disturbed in the presence of obstructive coronary atherosclerosis. This results in either concentric myocardial shells or patchy transmural zones of selective ischaemia with clear-cut but local abnormalities in metabolism and performance.

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    • 1 Supported by USPHS and Heart Research Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Gorlin is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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