Microcirculatory Dysfunction in Acute Heart Failure

  • Ovidiu Chioncel
  • Alexandre Mebazaa


Several conceptual frameworks have been proposed to explore the underlying pathogenesis of acute heart failure (AHF), and recently emerging evidence has suggested a potential impact of microcirculatory dysfunction. Numerous experimental and clinical studies have reported that microcirculation is altered in patients with AHF and cardiogenic shock (CS), and the extent of micro-vascular abnormalities has been correlated with organ dysfunction and mortality in AHF.

Although, the clinical consequences of macro-circulatory abnormalities, congestion or hypoperfusion, can lead to organ injury and failure of target organs (i.e. heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestine, brain), the intermediary link between central hemodynamics and organ failure is represented by microcirculatory dysfunction. Multiple organ failure is common in AHF and CS patients, despite correction of mean arterial pressure and cardiac output. Furthermore, using global hemodynamic markers as target to therapy in AHF may not be sufficient to avoid subsequent organ failure. Direct monitoring of the microcirculation by using currently available techniques, in conjunction with global hemodynamic data can be expected to help in the understanding of the pathophysiology of microcirculatory dysfunction during AHF decompensation.

Although different treatment strategies, including pharmacological interventions and mechanical circulatory support (MCS), may theoretically improve microcirculatory dysfunction, AHF patients may present with distinct clinical condition, varying from hypertensive heart failure to CS, and the severity of microcirculatory alterations and the response to therapy may differ among these clinical conditions. Understanding the time-course of microcirculatory abnormalities during AHF decompensation may assist to guide the therapies, and may help to identify the optimal timing for MCS implant.


Acute heart failure Cardiogenic shock Microcirculatory dysfunction Therapies 

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ovidiu Chioncel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexandre Mebazaa
    • 3
  1. 1.Emergency Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases “Prof. C.C. Iliescu”BucharestRomania
  2. 2.University of Medicine Carol DavilaBucharestRomania
  3. 3.Université de Paris, Hôpitaux Universitaires Saint Louis Lariboisière, APHP, U 942 Inserm-MASCOT, F-CRIN INI-CRCTParisFrance

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