Impact of hypertension on retinal capillary microvasculature using optical coherence tomographic angiography

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Abstract

Objective:

Reduction in capillary density or rarefaction is a hallmark of essential hypertension. We measured the retinal capillary density using noninvasive optical coherence tomographic angiography (OCT-A) in adults with treated systemic hypertension and determined possible correlations with ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and renal parameters.

Methods:

This observational cross-sectional study consisted of 153 normal eyes from 77 nondiabetic hypertensive adults [mean (SD) age, 58 (9) years; 49% women; 23% poorly controlled BP]. Data on 24-h ambulatory BP monitoring, serum creatinine, and urine microalbumin/creatinine ratio (MCR) were collected. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated based on CKD-EPI Creatinine Equation. Retinal capillary density measured with the OCT-A (AngioVue) at superficial (SVP) and deep vascular plexuses (DVP). Linear regression was used to investigate the association of risk factors with capillary density.

Results:

Retinal capillary density (percentage) at DVP was reduced in patients with poorly controlled BP (SBP = 148 ± 8 mmHg; 27.2 ± 13.0) compared with those with well controlled BP (SBP = 125 ± 9 mmHg; 34.7 ± 11.3). In the multivariable analysis, poorly controlled BP [β = −6.49, 95% confidence interval (CI), −12.39 to −0.59], higher SBP (β = −0.23, 95% CI −0.44 to −0.02) and lower eGFR (β = 6.42, 95% CI 1.25–11.60) were associated with sparser retinal capillary density. Systemic factors were not associated with capillary density at SVP (all P > 0.05).

Conclusion:

In adults with treated systemic hypertension, retinal capillary density reduced with higher BP and poorer eGFR. These findings highlight the potential role of OCT-A to study early microvascular changes because of systemic hypertension.

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