Vascular dysfunction and heart failure: Epiphenomenon or etiologic agent? Academic Article uri icon


  • Endothelial function plays a key role in the local regulation of vascular tone. Alterations in endothelial function may result in impaired release of endothelium-derived relaxing factors or increased release of endothelium-derived contracting factors. Heart failure may impair endothelial function by means of reduced synthesis and release of nitric oxide (NO) or by increased degradation of NO and increased production of endothelin-1. Endothelial dysfunction may worsen heart function by means of peripheral effects, causing increased afterload and central effects such as myocardial ischemia and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)-induced detrimental effects. Evidence from clinical studies has suggested that there is a correlation between decreased endothelial function and increasing severity of congestive heart failure (CHF). Treatments that improve heart function may also improve endothelial dysfunction. The relationship between endothelial dysfunction and heart failure may be masked by the stage of endothelial dysfunction, the location of vessels being tested, and the state of endothelial-dependent vasodilatation response.

publication date

  • March 2002