Management of the no-reflow phenomenon

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The lack of reperfusion of myocardium after prolonged ischaemia that may occur despite opening of the infarct-related artery is termed "no reflow". No reflow or slow flow occurs in 3-4% of all percutaneous coronary interventions, and is most common after emergency revascularization for acute myocardial infarction. In this setting no reflow is reported to occur in 30% to 40% of interventions when defined by myocardial perfusion techniques such as myocardial contrast echocardiography. No reflow is clinically important as it is independently associated with increased occurrence of malignant arrhythmias, cardiac failure, as well as in-hospital and long-term mortality. Previously the no-reflow phenomenon has been difficult to treat effectively, but recent advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of no reflow have led to several novel treatment strategies. These include prophylactic use of vasodilator therapies, mechanical devices, ischaemic postconditioning and potent platelet inhibitors. As no reflow is a multifactorial process, a combination of these treatments is more likely to be effective than any of these alone. In this review we discuss the pathophysiology of no reflow and present the numerous recent advances in therapy for this important clinical problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-85
Number of pages14
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Embolic protection devices
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Pharmacological agents
  • Slow- and no-reflow

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