The clinical relevance of the percentage flow mediated dilation index

Gregory Atkinson, Alan Batterham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In 2010, the American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association could not recommend brachial artery percentage flow-mediated dilation (FMD%) for risk assessment of coronary artery disease (CAD) in asymptomatic adults. We aimed to scrutinise past and recently-published findings regarding FMD% in this same context of clinical utility, and conclude that (1) The question of whether brachial FMD% is a suitable substitute for coronary vasodilation is addressed by method agreement statistics rather than the correlation coefficients that have been reported in past studies. Also, the much-repeated view that brachial FMD% and coronary vasodilation are “closely related” is not entirely justified, even before the influence of baseline lumen diameters on this relationship is accounted for, (2) Along with the specialist training and the considerable time (≥ 1 h) that is required for the FMD% protocol, the error in individual measurements and population reference ranges is too large for clinical decisions to be robust on individual patients, (3) Many interventions that are proposed to change FMD% also change baseline artery diameter, which can bias estimates of any intervention effects on the flow-mediated response per se, and (4) The FMD% index generates spurious correlations between shear rate, artery diameter and endothelial function, which may help to explain the apparent paradoxes of FMD% being higher in obese people and lower in athletes. In conclusion, the clinical relevance of brachial artery flow-mediated dilation is unclear at present. The dependence of the chosen index, FMD%, on initial artery size has contributed to this lack of clarity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    JournalCurrent Hypertension Reports
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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