Small vessel disease is a cardiac condition that can be difficult to detect; it can be asymptomatic or have symptoms similar to angina, according to the Mayo Clinic. A CAT scan for a condition known as periventricular hypodensity can help in properly diagnosing small vessel disease.
Small Vessel Disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, small vessel disease, also known as coronary microvascular disease, occurs when small arteries in the heart narrow—known as periventricular hypodensity. Small vessel disease is more common in women; diabetes and hypertension are coexisting conditions.
Both arteriolosclerosis and microatheromatosis—the two main types of small vessel disease—feature periventricular hypodensity, according to an August 8, 2002, article on “Lacunar Infarcts” published by the American Heart Association.
Periventricular hypodensity is a narrowing or thickening of the small blood vessels or ventricles. This narrowing, according to the Mayo Clinic, can contribute to small vessel disease. It can also be present in cerebrovascular disease, affecting the small blood vessels that supply the brain.
Periventricular hypodensity can also mean the heart and brain are receiving insufficient oxygen; vessels may narrow further while experiencing duress or stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. The inability of blood vessels to expand under stress is called endothelial dysfunction.
According to the American Heart Association article, untreated small vessel disease and periventricular hypodensity can trigger a lacunar infarct or stroke, particularly if periventricular hypodensity also affects an artery that provides blood to the brain.
Periventricular hypodensity is usually diagnosed via CAT scan, after the main heart arteries have been checked for narrowing and blockages.