Vol 24, No 2 (2020)
Published online: 2020-05-29

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The eye — a window to cardiovascular diseases

Edyta E. Dąbrowska12, Joanna M. Harazny34, Jacek Wolf1, Urszula Szulc3, Krzysztof Narkiewicz1
Arterial Hypertension 2020;24(2):56-60.


Microvascular alterations can parallel and even precede development of cardiovascular disease. Ocular bulb, due to transparent anatomical elements provides a unique opportunity to examine microcirculation non-invasively and in vivo by means of scanning laser Doppler flowmetry. This device enables to obtain both structural and functional parameters of retinal microvasculature. Alterations observed in retinal arterioles, i.e. lumen narrowing, increased wall-to-lumen ratio, rarefaction or reduced retinal capillary flow, have been independently associated with cardiometabolic diseases: hypertension, heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.
Therefore, examination of easily accessible retinal microcirculation may provide novel insights into the mechanisms underlying various diseases, serve as a marker of target organ damage and add valuable information to cardiovascular
risk stratification.

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