To evaluate, with the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), whether aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) is associated with cardiac left ventricular (LV) function and mass as well as with cerebral small vessel disease in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM).
Materials and methods
We included 86 consecutive type 1 DM patients (49 male, mean age 46.9 ± 11.7 years) in a prospective, cross-sectional study. Exclusion criteria included aortic/heart disease and general MRI contra-indications. MRI of the aorta, heart and brain was performed for assessment of aortic PWV, as a marker of aortic stiffness, systolic LV function and mass, as well as for the presence of cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), microbleeds and lacunar infarcts. Multivariate linear or logistic regression was performed to analyse the association between aortic PWV and outcome parameters, with covariates defined as age, gender, mean arterial pressure, heart rate, BMI, smoking, DM duration and hypertension.
Mean aortic PWV was 7.1 ± 2.5 m/s. Aortic PWV was independently associated with LV ejection fraction (ß = -0.406, P = 0.006), LV stroke volume (ß = -0.407, P = 0.001), LV cardiac output (ß = -0.458, P = 0.001), and with cerebral WMHs (P < 0.05). There were no independent associations between aortic stiffness and LV mass, cerebral microbleeds or lacunar infarcts.
Aortic stiffness is independently associated with systolic LV function and cerebral WMHs in patients with type 1 DM.
Aorta; Magnetic resonance imaging; Type 1 diabetes mellitus; Heart; Brain
Arterial stiffness directly influences cardiac function and is independently associated with cardiovascular risk. However, the influence of the aortic reflected pulse pressure wave on left ventricular function has not been well characterized. The aim of this study was to obtain detailed information on regional ventricular wall motion patterns corresponding to the propagation of the reflected aortic wave on ventricular segments.
Left ventricular wall motion was investigated in a group of healthy volunteers (n = 14, age 23 ± 3 years), using cardiac magnetic resonance navigator-gated tissue phase mapping. The left ventricle was divided into 16 segments and regional wall motion was studied in high temporal detail.
Corresponding to the expected timing of the reflected aortic wave reaching the left ventricle, a characteristic “notch” of regional myocardial motion was seen in all radial, circumferential, and longitudinal velocity graphs. This notch was particularly prominent in septal segments adjacent to the left ventricular outflow tract on radial velocity graphs and in anterior and posterior left ventricular segments on circumferential velocity graphs. Similarly, longitudinal velocity graphs demonstrated a brief deceleration in the upward recoil motion of the entire ventricle at the beginning of diastole.
These results provide new insights into the possible influence of the reflected aortic waves on ventricular segments. Although the association with the reflected wave appears to us to be unambiguous, it represents a novel research concept, and further studies enabling the actual recording of the pulse wave are required.
arterial pressure wave; reflected wave; ventricular wall motion; cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging; tissue phase mapping
To define age-related geometric changes of the aortic arch and determine their relationship to central aortic stiffness and left ventricular remodeling.
The proximal aorta has been shown to thicken, enlarge in diameter and lengthen with aging in humans. However, no systematic study has described age-related longitudinal and transversal remodeling of the aortic arch and their relationship with left ventricular mass and remodeling.
We studied 100 subjects (55 women, 45 men, average age: 46±16 years) free of overt cardiovascular disease using magnetic resonance imaging to determine aortic arch geometry (length, diameters, height, width and curvature), aortic arch function (local aortic distensibility and arch pulse wave velocity PWV) and left ventricular volumes and mass. Radial tonometry was used to calculate central blood pressure.
Aortic diameters and arch length increased significantly with age. The ascending aorta increased most with age leading to aortic arch widening and decreased curvature. These geometric changes of the aortic arch were significantly related to decreased ascending aortic distensibility, increased aortic arch PWV (p<0.001) and to increased central blood pressures (p<0.001). Increased ascending aortic diameter, lengthening and decreased curvature of the aortic arch (unfolding) were all significantly associated with increased LV mass and concentric remodeling independently of age, gender, body size and central blood pressure (p<0.01).
Age-related unfolding of the aortic arch is related to increased proximal aortic stiffness in individuals without cardiovascular disease and associated with increased LV mass and mass-to-volume ratio independent of age, body size, central pressure and cardiovascular risk factors.
magnetic resonance imaging; aortic geometry; aging; elasticity; left ventricular remodeling
To investigate in type-1 diabetes mellitus (DM1) patients the role of hypertension and of DM1 itself on aortic stiffness by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Consecutive patients from the diabetes and hypertension outpatient clinic and healthy volunteers were included in our study. Subjects were divided into four groups: 32 healthy volunteers (mean age: 54.5 ± 6.8 years), 20 DM1 patients (mean age: 48.3 ± 5.9 years), 31 hypertensive patients (mean age: 59.9 ± 7.2 years) and 28 patients with both DM1 and hypertension (mean age: 50.1 ± 6.2 years). Aortic stiffness was measured by means of pulse wave velocity (PWV) using velocity-encoded MRI. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), uni- and multivariable regression models and the Bonferroni-test for multiple testing, were used for statistical analyses. Mean aortic PWV was 5.7 ± 1.2 m/s in healthy volunteers, 5.9 ± 1.2 m/s in DM1 patients without hypertension, 7.3 ± 1.2 m/s in hypertensive patients and 7.3 ± 1.3 m/s in patients with both DM1 and hypertension. Compared to healthy control subjects, aortic PWV was significantly higher in patients with hypertension (P < 0.001) and in patients with both DM1 and hypertension (P < 0.001), whereas aortic PWV was not increased in patients having DM1 alone. Furthermore, aortic PWV was significantly higher in DM1 patients with hypertension than in patients with DM1 alone (P = 0.002). These findings remained after adjustment for confounding factors. Hypertension has a predominant contributive effect on aortic stiffness in DM1 patients whereas the direct diabetic effect on aortic stiffness is small.
Aortic pulse wave velocity; MRI; Type-1 diabetes mellitus; Hypertension
Aortic stiffness increases with age and vascular risk factor exposure and is associated with increased risk for structural and functional abnormalities in the brain. High ambient flow and low impedance are thought to sensitize the cerebral microcirculation to harmful effects of excessive pressure and flow pulsatility. However, haemodynamic mechanisms contributing to structural brain lesions and cognitive impairment in the presence of high aortic stiffness remain unclear. We hypothesized that disproportionate stiffening of the proximal aorta as compared with the carotid arteries reduces wave reflection at this important interface and thereby facilitates transmission of excessive pulsatile energy into the cerebral microcirculation, leading to microvascular damage and impaired function. To assess this hypothesis, we evaluated carotid pressure and flow, carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity, brain magnetic resonance images and cognitive scores in participants in the community-based Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility – Reykjavik study who had no history of stroke, transient ischaemic attack or dementia (n = 668, 378 females, 69–93 years of age). Aortic characteristic impedance was assessed in a random subset (n = 422) and the reflection coefficient at the aorta–carotid interface was computed. Carotid flow pulsatility index was negatively related to the aorta–carotid reflection coefficient (R = −0.66, P<0.001). Carotid pulse pressure, pulsatility index and carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity were each associated with increased risk for silent subcortical infarcts (hazard ratios of 1.62–1.71 per standard deviation, P<0.002). Carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity was associated with higher white matter hyperintensity volume (0.108 ± 0.045 SD/SD, P = 0.018). Pulsatility index was associated with lower whole brain (−0.127 ± 0.037 SD/SD, P<0.001), grey matter (−0.079 ± 0.038 SD/SD, P = 0.038) and white matter (−0.128 ± 0.039 SD/SD, P<0.001) volumes. Carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity (−0.095 ± 0.043 SD/SD, P = 0.028) and carotid pulse pressure (−0.114 ± 0.045 SD/SD, P = 0.013) were associated with lower memory scores. Pulsatility index was associated with lower memory scores (−0.165 ± 0.039 SD/SD, P<0.001), slower processing speed (−0.118 ± 0.033 SD/SD, P<0.001) and worse performance on tests assessing executive function (−0.155 ± 0.041 SD/SD, P<0.001). When magnetic resonance imaging measures (grey and white matter volumes, white matter hyperintensity volumes and prevalent subcortical infarcts) were included in cognitive models, haemodynamic associations were attenuated or no longer significant, consistent with the hypothesis that increased aortic stiffness and excessive flow pulsatility damage the microcirculation, leading to quantifiable tissue damage and reduced cognitive performance. Marked stiffening of the aorta is associated with reduced wave reflection at the interface between carotid and aorta, transmission of excessive flow pulsatility into the brain, microvascular structural brain damage and lower scores in various cognitive domains.
haemodynamics; aortic stiffness; magnetic resonance imaging; brain structure; cognitive function
The Bramwell-Hill model describes the relation between vascular wall stiffness expressed in aortic distensibility and the pulse wave velocity (PWV), which is the propagation speed of the systolic pressure wave through the aorta. The main objective of this study was to test the validity of this model locally in the aorta by using PWV-assessments based on in-plane velocity-encoded cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), with invasive pressure measurements serving as the gold standard.
Seventeen patients (14 male, 3 female, mean age ± standard deviation = 57 ± 9 years) awaiting cardiac catheterization were prospectively included. During catheterization, intra-arterial pressure measurements were obtained in the aorta at multiple locations 5.8 cm apart. PWV was determined regionally over the aortic arch and locally in the proximal descending aorta. Subsequently, patients underwent a CMR examination to measure aortic PWV and aortic distention. Distensibility was determined locally from the aortic distension at the proximal descending aorta and the pulse pressure measured invasively during catheterization and non-invasively from brachial cuff-assessment. PWV was determined regionally in the aortic arch using through-plane and in-plane velocity-encoded CMR, and locally at the proximal descending aorta using in-plane velocity-encoded CMR. Validity of the Bramwell-Hill model was tested by evaluating associations between distensibility and PWV. Also, theoretical PWV was calculated from distensibility measurements and compared with pressure-assessed PWV.
In-plane velocity-encoded CMR provides stronger correlation (p = 0.02) between CMR and pressure-assessed PWV than through-plane velocity-encoded CMR (r = 0.69 versus r = 0.26), with a non-significant mean error of 0.2 ± 1.6 m/s for in-plane versus a significant (p = 0.006) error of 1.3 ± 1.7 m/s for through-plane velocity-encoded CMR. The Bramwell-Hill model shows a significantly (p = 0.01) stronger association between distensibility and PWV for local assessment (r = 0.8) than for regional assessment (r = 0.7), both for CMR and for pressure-assessed PWV. Theoretical PWV is strongly correlated (r = 0.8) with pressure-assessed PWV, with a statistically significant (p = 0.04) mean underestimation of 0.6 ± 1.1 m/s. This theoretical PWV-estimation is more accurate when invasively-assessed pulse pressure is used instead of brachial cuff-assessment (p = 0.03).
CMR with in-plane velocity-encoding is the optimal approach for studying Bramwell-Hill associations between local PWV and aortic distensibility. This approach enables non-invasive estimation of local pulse pressure and distensibility.
The assessment of arterial stiffness is increasingly used for evaluating patients with different cardiovascular diseases as the mechanical properties of major arteries are often altered. Aortic stiffness can be noninvasively estimated by measuring pulse wave velocity (PWV). Several methods have been proposed for measuring PWV using velocity-encoded cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), including transit-time (TT), flow-area (QA), and cross-correlation (XC) methods. However, assessment and comparison of these techniques at high field strength has not yet been performed. In this work, the TT, QA, and XC techniques were clinically tested at 3 Tesla and compared to each other.
Fifty cardiovascular patients and six volunteers were scanned to acquire the necessary images. The six volunteer scans were performed twice to test inter-scan reproducibility. Patient images were analyzed using the TT, XC, and QA methods to determine PWV. Two observers analyzed the images to determine inter-observer and intra-observer variabilities. The PWV measurements by the three methods were compared to each other to test inter-method variability. To illustrate the importance of PWV using CMR, the degree of aortic stiffness was assessed using PWV and related to LV dysfunction in five patients with diastolic heart failure patients and five matched volunteers.
The inter-observer and intra-observer variability results showed no bias between the different techniques. The TT and XC results were more reproducible than the QA; the mean (SD) inter-observer/intra-observer PWV differences were -0.12(1.3)/-0.04(0.4) for TT, 0.2(1.3)/0.09(0.9) for XC, and 0.6(1.6)/0.2(1.4) m/s for QA methods, respectively. The correlation coefficients (r) for the inter-observer/intra-observer comparisons were 0.94/0.99, 0.88/0.94, and 0.83/0.92 for the TT, XC, and QA methods, respectively. The inter-scan reproducibility results showed low variability between the repeated scans (mean (SD) PWV difference = -0.02(0.4) m/s and r = 0.96). The inter-method variability results showed strong correlation between the TT and XC measurements, but less correlation with QA: r = 0.95, 0.87, and 0.89, and mean (SD) PWV differences = -0.12(1.0), 0.8(1.7), and 0.65(1.6) m/s for TT-XC, TT-QA, and XC-QA, respectively. Finally, in the group of diastolic heart failure patient, PWV was significantly higher (6.3 ± 1.9 m/s) than in volunteers (3.5 ± 1.4 m/s), and the degree of LV diastolic dysfunction showed good correlation with aortic PWV.
In conclusion, while each of the studied methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, at high field strength, the TT and XC methods result in closer and more reproducible aortic PWV measurements, and the associated image processing requires less user interaction, than in the QA method. The choice of the analysis technique depends on the vessel segment geometry and available image quality.
Previous research suggests that arterial stiffness may be significantly higher in African-Americans compared to Caucasians. However, the influence of aerobic fitness on the putative difference in arterial stiffness between these groups has not been previously investigated.
Two hundred forty-eight subjects (215 Caucasian, 33 African-American) participated in this study. Within one week following enrollment, subjects underwent body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) assessment, cardiopulmonary exercise testing and measurement of aortic wave velocity (AWV, m/s) via magnetic resonance imaging. Initially, 33 Caucasian subjects were randomly age (±4 years) and sex-matched (10 male/23 female) to the African-American subjects. 25 Caucasian subjects were then randomly matched for age (±4 years), sex (7 male/18 female) and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2Max±7 mlO2●kg−1●min−1) to the African-American subjects. Matching based upon VO2Max criteria was not possible for 8 African-American subjects.
In the age and sex-matched analysis, Caucasian subjects demonstrated a significantly higher VO2Max (38.3 ±9.6 vs. 27.9 ±8.6 mlO2●kg−1●min−1, p<0.001) and lower BMI (24.5 ± 3.2 vs. 29.3 ±6.2 kg/m2, p<0.001) and AWV (5.8 ±1.7 vs. 6.7 ±1.5 m/s, p=0.03). However, when subjects were matched for age, sex and VO2Max, the differences in both BMI (26.8 ±5.5 vs. 27.9 ±5.6 kg/m2, p=0.45) and AWV (6.1 ±1.8 vs. 6.5 ±1.6 meters/second, p=0.77) were insignificant.
The results of the present study suggest that previously reported differences in arterial stiffness between Caucasians and African-Americans is at least partially a consequence of a lower level of aerobic fitness in the latter group, a phenomenon that has also been previously demonstrated.
Exercise Testing; Oxygen Consumption; Aortic Wave Velocity; Ethnic Differences
Arterial stiffness is considered as an independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality, and is increasingly used in clinical practice. This study aimed at evaluating the consistency of the automated estimation of regional and local aortic stiffness indices from cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) data.
Forty-six healthy subjects underwent carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity measurements (CF_PWV) by applanation tonometry and CMR with steady-state free-precession and phase contrast acquisitions at the level of the aortic arch. These data were used for the automated evaluation of the aortic arch pulse wave velocity (Arch_PWV), and the ascending aorta distensibility (AA_Distc, AA_Distb), which were estimated from ascending aorta strain (AA_Strain) combined with either carotid or brachial pulse pressure. The local ascending aorta pulse wave velocity AA_PWVc and AA_PWVb were estimated respectively from these carotid and brachial derived distensibility indices according to the Bramwell-Hill theoretical model, and were compared with the Arch_PWV. In addition, a reproducibility analysis of AA_PWV measurement and its comparison with the standard CF_PWV was performed. Characterization according to the Bramwell-Hill equation resulted in good correlations between Arch_PWV and both local distensibility indices AA_Distc (r = 0.71, p < 0.001) and AA_Distb (r = 0.60, p < 0.001); and between Arch_PWV and both theoretical local indices AA_PWVc (r = 0.78, p < 0.001) and AA_PWVb (r = 0.78, p < 0.001). Furthermore, the Arch_PWV was well related to CF_PWV (r = 0.69, p < 0.001) and its estimation was highly reproducible (inter-operator variability: 7.1%).
The present work confirmed the consistency and robustness of the regional index Arch_PWV and the local indices AA_Distc and AA_Distb according to the theoretical model, as well as to the well established measurement of CF_PWV, demonstrating the relevance of the regional and local CMR indices.
We compared aortic stiffness, aortic impedance and pressure from wave reflections in the setting of bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) to the tricuspid aortic valve (TAV) in the absence of proximal aortic dilation. We hypothesized BAV is associated with abnormal arterial stiffness.
Ten BAV subjects (47 ± 4 years, 6 male) and 13 TAV subjects (46 ± 4 years, 10 male) without significant aortic valve disease were prospectively recruited. Characteristic impedance (Zc) was derived from echocardiographic images and pulse wave Doppler of the left ventricular outflow tract. Applanation tonometry was performed to obtain pulse wave velocity (PWV) at several sites as measures of arterial stiffness and augmentation index (AIx) as a measure of wave reflection.
There were no significant differences between BAV and TAV subjects with regard to heart rate or blood pressure. Zc was similar between BAV and TAV subjects (p=0.25) as was carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cf-PWV) and carotid-radial PWV (cr-PWV) between BAV and TAV subjects (p=0.99). Carotid AIx was significantly higher in BAV patients compared with TAV patients (14.3 ± 4.18% versus -3.02 ± 3.96%, p=0.007).
Aortic stiffness and impedance is similar between subjects with BAV and TAV with normal aortic dimensions. The significantly higher carotid AIx in BAV, a proxy of increased pressure from wave reflections, may reflect abnormal vascular function distal to the aorta.
Bicuspid aortic valve; Arterial stiffness; Augmentation index; Pulse wave velocity
Increased arterial stiffness and wave reflection have been identified as cardiovascular disease risk factors. In light of significant sex differences and the moderate heritability of vascular function measures, we hypothesized that variation in the genes coding for estrogen receptors alpha (ESR1) and beta (ESR2) and aromatase (CYP19A1) is associated with aortic stiffness and pressure wave reflection as measured by noninvasive arterial tonometry. 1261 unrelated Framingham Offspring Study participants who attended the 7th examination cycle (mean age 62±10 years, 52% women) and had arterial tonometry and genotyping data were included in the study. ANCOVA was used to assess the association of polymorphisms with forward wave amplitude, augmented pressure, augmentation index, carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, and mean arterial pressure with adjustment for potential confounders. In the sex-pooled analysis, those homozygous for the minor allele at any of four ESR1 variants that were in strong linkage disequilibrium ((TA)n, rs2077647, rs2234693 and rs9340799) had on average 18% higher augmented pressure and 16% greater augmentation index compared to carriers of one or two major alleles (p=0.0002–0.01). A similar magnitude of association was detected in those homozygous for the common allele at two ESR2 SNPs (p=0.007–0.02). Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that variation in ESR1 and ESR2, but not CYP19A1, is associated with increased wave reflection, which may contribute to previously demonstrated associations between these variants and adverse clinical events. Our findings will need to be replicated in additional cohorts.
arterial stiffness; tonometry; estrogen receptor; polymorphism
An early return of reflected waves, the backward propagation of the arterial pressure wave from the periphery to the heart, is associated with the augmentation of central pulse pressure and cardiovascular risks. The location of arterial pressure wave reflection, along with arterial stiffening, have a major influence on the timing of the reflected wave. To determine the influence of aging on the location of a major reflection site, arterial length (via three-dimensional artery tracing of magnetic resonance imaging) and central (carotid-femoral) and peripheral (femoral-ankle) pulse wave velocity were measured in 208 adults varying in age. The major reflection site was detected by carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and the reflected wave transit time (via carotid arterial pressure wave analysis). The length from the aortic valve to the major reflection site (e.g., effective reflecting length) significantly increased with aging. The effective reflecting length normalized by the arterial length demonstrated that the major reflection sites located between the aortic bifurcation and femoral site in most of the subjects. The normalized effective reflecting length did not alter with aging until 65-year-old and increased remarkably thereafter in men and women. The effective reflecting length was significantly and positively associated with the difference between central and peripheral pulse wave velocity (r=0.76). This correlation remained significant even when the influence of aortic pulse wave velocity was partial out (r=0.35). These results suggest that the major reflection site shifts distally with aging partly due to the closer matching of impedance provided by central and peripheral arterial stiffness.
arterial stiffness; arterial wave reflection; magnetic resonance image
It is uncertain if the higher blood pressure (BP) observed in the offspring of hypertensive pregnancies is an isolated abnormality or one that is accompanied by impaired vascular function and alterations in lipid and inflammation markers that would be indicative of a more general cardiometabolic disturbance of the type observed in the mother during pre-eclampsia.
Methods and results
In a large UK cohort of maternal-offspring pairs (n = 3537–4654), assessed at age 9–12 years, we examined the associations of maternal gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia with offspring BP, endothelial function assessed by brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation; arterial stiffness assessed by carotid to radial pulse wave velocity; brachial artery distensibility and BP (vascular outcomes); as well as markers of inflammation, lipids and apolipoproteins A1 and B. Offspring of women with pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension had higher systolic blood pressure by 2.04 mmHg (95% CI: 1.33, 2.76) and 1.82 mmHg (95% CI: 0.03, 3.62), respectively, and higher diastolic blood pressure by 1.10 mmHg (95% CI: 0.47, 1.73) and 1.26 mmHg (95% CI: −0.32, 2.85), respectively, in analyses adjusted for maternal and offspring body mass index (BMI), offspring dietary sodium intake and other potential confounders. However, we found no associations of either hypertensive disorder of pregnancy with the other vascular outcomes or with inflammatory markers, lipids, and apolipoproteins.
Pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension are associated with higher offspring BP in childhood in the absence of other vascular alterations or metabolic derangements. The findings support the existence of shared mother-offspring risk factors that are specific for higher BP, rather than the additional cardiometabolic abnormalities of hypertensive disorder of pregnancy having long-term consequences for offspring.
Hypertensive disorder of pregnancy; Endothelial function; Arterial stiffness; Blood pressure; Lipids; ALSPAC
Cancer survivors exposed to anthracyclines experience an increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) events. We hypothesized that anthracycline use may increase aortic stiffness, a known predictor of CV events.
Patients and Methods
We performed a prospective, case-control study involving 53 patients: 40 individuals who received an anthracycline for the treatment of breast cancer, lymphoma, or leukemia (cases), and 13 age- and sex-matched controls. Each participant underwent phase-contrast cardiovascular magnetic resonance measures of pulse wave velocity (PWV) and aortic distensibility (AoD) in the thoracic aorta at baseline, and 4 months after initiation of chemotherapy. Four one-way analyses of covariance models were fit in which factors known to influence thoracic aortic stiffness were included as covariates in the models.
At the 4-month follow-up visit, aortic stiffness remained similar to baseline in the control participants. However, in the participants receiving anthracyclines, aortic stiffness increased markedly (relative to baseline), as evidenced by a decrease in AoD (P < .0001) and an increase in PWV (P < .0001). These changes in aortic stiffness persisted after accounting for age, sex, cardiac output, administered cardioactive medications, and underlying clinical conditions known to influence aortic stiffness, such as hypertension or diabetes (P < .0001).
A significant increase in aortic stiffness occurs within 4 months of exposure to an anthracycline which was not seen in an untreated control group. These results indicate that previously regarded cardiotoxic cancer therapy adversely increases thoracic aortic stiffness, a known independent predictor of adverse cardiovascular events.
Arterial stiffness predicts cardiovascular events beyond traditional risk factors. However, the relationship with aging of novel noninvasive measures of aortic function by MRI and their interrelationship with established markers of vascular stiffness remain unclear and currently limit their potential impact. Our aim was to compare age-related changes of central measures of aortic function with carotid distensibility, global carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity, and wave reflections. We determined aortic strain, distensibility, and aortic arch pulse wave velocity by MRI, carotid distensibility by ultrasound, and carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity by tonometry in 111 asymptomatic subjects (54 men, age range: 20 to 84 years). Central pressures were used to calculate aortic distensibility. Peripheral and central pulse pressure, augmentation index, and carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity increased with age, but aortic strain and aortic arch PWV were most closely and specifically related to aging. Ascending aortic (AA) strain and distensibility decreased, respectively, by 5.3±0.5% (R2 = 0.54, P<0.0001) and 13.6±1 kPa−1×10−3 (R2=0.62, P<0.0001), and aortic arch pulse wave velocity increased by 1.6±0.13 m/sec (R2=0.60, P<0.0001) for each decade of age after adjustment for gender, body size, and heart rate. We demonstrate in this study a dramatic decrease in AA distensibility before the fifth decade of life in individuals with diverse prevalence of risk factors free of overt cardiovascular disease. In particular, compared with other measures of aortic function, the best markers of subclinical large artery stiffening, were AA distensibility in younger and aortic arch pulse wave velocity in older individuals.
MRI; aorta; aging; elasticity; pulse wave velocity
Aortic enlargement and impaired bioelasticity are of interest in several cardiac and non-cardiac diseases as they can lead to cardiovascular complications. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is increasingly accepted as a noninvasive tool in cardiovascular evaluation. Assessment of aortic anatomy and bioelasticity, namely aortic distensibility and pulse wave velocity (PWV), by CMR is accurate and reproducible and could help to identify anatomical and bioelastic abnormalities of the aorta. However, normal CMR values for healthy children and young adults are lacking.
Seventy-one heart-healthy subjects (age 16.4 ± 7.6 years, range 2.3 - 28.3 years) were examined using a 3.0 Tesla CMR scanner. Aortic cross-sectional areas and aortic distensibility were measured at four positions of the ascending and descending thoracic aorta. PWV was assessed from aortic blood flow velocity measurements in a aortic segment between the ascending aorta and the proximal descending aorta. The Lambda-Mu-Sigma (LMS) method was used to obtain percentile curves for aortic cross-sectional areas, aortic distensibility and PWV according to age.
Aortic areas, PWV and aortic distensibility (aortic cross-sectional areas: r = 0.8 to 0.9, p < 0.001; PWV: r = 0.25 to 0.32, p = 0.047 to 0.009; aortic distensibility r = -0.43 to -0.62, p < 0.001) correlated with height, weight, body surface area, and age. There were no significant sex differences.
This study provides percentile curves for cross-sectional areas, distensibility and pulse wave velocity of the thoracic aorta in children and young adolescents between their 3rd and 29th year of life. These data may serve as a reference for the detection of pathological changes of the aorta in cardiovascular disease.
Aortic stiffness is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease endpoints. Cross-sectional studies have shown associations of various cardiovascular risk factors with aortic pulse wave velocity, a measure of aortic stiffness, but the long-term impact of these factors on aortic stiffness is unknown.
In 3,769 men and women from the Whitehall II cohort, a wide range of traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors were determined at baseline (1991–1993) and aortic pulse wave velocity was measured at follow-up (2007–2009). The prospective associations between each baseline risk factor and aortic pulse wave velocity at follow-up were assessed through sex stratified linear regression analysis adjusted for relevant confounders. Missing data on baseline determinants were imputed using the Multivariate Imputation by Chained Equations.
Among men, the strongest predictors were waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, heart rate and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist, and among women, adiponectin, triglycerides, pulse pressure and waist-hip ratio. The impact of 10 centimeter increase in waist circumference on aortic pulse wave velocity was twice as large for men compared with women (men: 0.40 m/s (95%-CI: 0.24;0.56); women: 0.17 m/s (95%-CI: −0.01;0.35)), whereas the opposite was true for the impact of a two-fold increase in adiponectin (men: −0.30 m/s (95%-CI: −0.51;−0.10); women: 0.61 m/s (95%-CI: −0.86;−0.35)).
In this large prospective study, central obesity was a strong predictor of aortic stiffness. Additionally, heart rate in men and adiponectin in women predicted aortic pulse wave velocity suggesting that strategies to prevent aortic stiffening should be focused differently by sex.
Stiffness of the central arteries in aging may contribute to cerebral microvascular disease independent of hypertension and other vascular risk factors. Few studies of older adults have evaluated the association of central arterial stiffness with longitudinal cognitive decline.
We evaluated associations of aortic pulse wave velocity (centimeters per second), a measure of central arterial stiffness, with cognitive function and decline in 552 participants in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study Cognitive Vitality Substudy (mean age ± SD = 73.1 ± 2.7 years, 48% men and 42% black). Aortic pulse wave velocity was assessed at baseline via Doppler-recorded carotid and femoral pulse waveforms. Global cognitive function, verbal memory, psychomotor, and perceptual speed were evaluated over 6 years.
After adjustment for demographics, vascular risk factors, and chronic conditions, each 1 SD higher aortic pulse wave velocity (389 cm/s) was associated with poorer cognitive function: −0.11 SD for global function (SE = 0.04, p < .01), −0.09 SD for psychomotor speed (SE = 0.04, p = .03), and −0.12 SD for perceptual speed (SE = 0.04, p < .01). Higher aortic pulse wave velocity was also associated with greater decline in psychomotor speed, defined as greater than 1 SD more than the mean change (odds ratio = 1.42 [95% confidence interval = 1.06, 1.90]) but not with verbal memory or longitudinal decline in global function, verbal memory, or perceptual speed. Results were consistent with mixed models of decline in each cognitive test.
In well-functioning older adults, central arterial stiffness may contribute to cognitive decline independent of hypertension and other vascular risk factors.
Aging; Arterial stiffness; Cognitive decline
OBJECTIVE—To evaluate the influence of lipid and glucose metabolism in the metabolic syndrome on aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) and left ventricular (LV) diastolic function using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Aortic PWV and LV diastolic function were assessed using MRI in 16 subjects with the metabolic syndrome and 16 subjects without the metabolic syndrome matched for age, waist circumference, and blood pressure. The groups were compared using the unpaired t test or Mann-Whitney U test, and linear regression analysis was applied.
RESULTS—Aortic PWV was increased and LV diastolic function was decreased in subjects with compared with those without the metabolic syndrome. HDL cholesterol was independently associated with aortic PWV (R = −0.470, P < 0.01) and LV diastolic function (R = −0.421, P = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS—Increased aortic PWV and decreased LV diastolic function is observed in subjects with the metabolic syndrome, regardless of blood pressure. Moreover, HDL cholesterol is independently associated with aortic PWV and LV diastolic function.
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) activity and aortic stiffness in humans.
Epidemiologic studies have shown that there is a relationship between aortic stiffness and cardiovascular complications. Recent evidence suggests that ROCK plays an important role in the process of atherosclerosis.
We evaluated the forearm blood flow (FBF) response to sodium nitroprusside (SNP), a nitric oxide donor, acetylcholine (ACh), an endothelium-dependent vasodilator, and fasudil, a specific ROCK inhibitor, in 51 healthy male subjects (mean age 45.6 ± 3.0 years). The FBF was measured by using a strain-gauge plethysmograph. Carotidfemoral pulse wave velocity (cf-PWV) was measured to assess the aortic stiffness using a pulse wave velocimeter.
Intra-arterial infusion of SNP alone, ACh alone, or fasudil alone and after coinfusion of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA), a nitric-oxide synthase inhibitor, significantly increased FBF in a dose-dependent manner (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis showed that age and number of pack-years smoked were independent predictors of ROCK activity before or after co-infusion of L-NMMA (p < 0.01) and that age and ROCK activity before or after co-infusion of L-NMMA were independent predictors of cf-PWV (p < 0.01). The concentration of serum malondialdehyde-modified low-density lipoprotein, an index of oxidative stress, was significantly correlated with ROCK activity before and after co-infusion of L-NMMA and cf-PWV (p < 0.01).
These findings suggest that aging and accumulating smoking habit, which might induce excessive oxidative stress, are involved in ROCK activity in the vasculature, leading to an increase in aortic stiffness in humans.
Pulse-wave velocity (PWV) is an index of arterial stiffness, which is a strong indicator of cardiovascular risk. We present a high-speed technique that generates time-resolved complex difference (CD) signal intensity simultaneously in the ascending and descending aorta from velocity-encoded projections without gating, allowing quantification of PWV. The velocity-time curve was approximated with a time-resolved CD signal intensity to estimate the propagation time of the pulse wave in the aortic arch. The path length of the pulse wave is measured from an oblique sagittal image in a plane encompassing thoracic ascending and descending aorta and PWV is computed from the ratio between the path length and pulse-wave propagation time. The method was implemented at 1.5T and 3T and PWV was quantified in healthy subjects (ages 20 – 70 years, N=23) without symptoms or prior history of cardiovascular events. In addition, the method was compared against retrospectively EKG-gated PC-MRI. The overall results were found to be in good agreement with literature data showing age-related increase in aortic stiffness. The RMS differences between the projection and gated PC-MRI methods were less than 4%. Key benefits of the proposed method are simplicity in both data acquisition and processing requiring only computation of the complex difference between the velocity-encoded projections rather than absolute velocity.
Increased central arterial stiffness, involving accelerated vascular ageing of the aorta, is a powerful and independent risk factor for early mortality and provides prognostic information above and beyond traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Central arterial stiffness is an important determinant of pulse pressure; therefore, any pathological increase may result in left ventricular hypertrophy and impaired coronary perfusion. Central artery stiffness can be assessed noninvasively by measurement of aortic pulse wave velocity, which is the gold standard for measurement of arterial stiffness. Earlier, it was believed that changes in arterial stiffness, which are primarily influenced by long-term pressure-dependent structural changes, may be slowed but not reversed by pharmacotherapy. Recent studies with drugs that inhibit the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system, advanced glycation end products crosslink breakers, and endothelin antagonists suggest that blood pressure (BP)-independent reduction and reversal of arterial stiffness are feasible. We review the recent literature on the differential effect of antihypertensive agents either as monotherapy or combination therapy on arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is an emerging therapeutic target for CVD risk reduction; however, further clinical trials are required to confirm whether BP-independent changes in arterial stiffness directly translate to a reduction in CVD events.
aortic pulse wave velocity; augmentation index; blood pressure; renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system
We investigated the heritability and familial aggregation of various indexes of arterial stiffness and wave reflection and we partitioned the phenotypic correlation between these traits into shared genetic and environmental components.
Using a family-based population sample, we recruited 204 parents (mean age, 51.7 years) and 290 offspring (29.4 years) from the population in Cracow, Poland (62 families), Hechtel-Eksel, Belgium (36), and Pilsen, the Czech Republic (50). We measured peripheral pulse pressure (PPp) sphygmomanometrically at the brachial artery; central pulse pressure (PPc), the peripheral augmentation indexes (PAIxs) and central augmentation indexes (CAIxs) by applanation tonometry at the radial artery; and aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) by tonometry or ultrasound. In multivariate-adjusted analyses, we used the ASSOC and PROC GENMOD procedures as implemented in SAGE and SAS, respectively.
We found significant heritability for PAIx, CAIx, PPc and mean arterial pressure ranging from 0.37 to 0.41; P ≤ 0.0001. The method of intrafamilial concordance confirmed these results; intrafamilial correlation coefficients were significant for all arterial indexes (r > ≥ 0.12; P < ≤ 0.02) with the exception of PPc (r = −0.007; P = 0.90) in parent–offspring pairs. The sib–sib correlations were also significant for CAIx (r = 0.22; P = 0.001). The genetic correlation between PWV and the other arterial indexes were significant (ρG ≥ 0.29; P < 0.0001). The corresponding environmental correlations were only significantly positive for PPp (ρE = 0.10, P = 0.03).
The observation of significant intrafamilial concordance and heritability of various indexes of arterial stiffness as well as the genetic correlations among arterial phenotypes strongly support the search for shared genetic determinants underlying these traits.
arterial stiffness; familial aggregation; heritability; pulse pressure; systolic augmentation
Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a non invasive phase-contrast based method for quantifying the shear stiffness of biological tissues. Synchronous application of a shear wave source and motion encoding gradient waveforms within the MRE pulse sequence enable visualization of the propagating shear wave throughout the medium under investigation. Encoded shear wave induced displacements are then processed to calculate the local shear stiffness of each voxel. An important consideration in local shear stiffness estimates is that the algorithms employed typically calculate shear stiffness using relatively high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) MRE images and have difficulties at extremely low SNR. A new method of estimating shear stiffness based on the principal spatial frequency of the shear wave displacement map is presented. Finite element simulations were performed to assess the relative insensitivity of this approach to decreases in SNR. Additionally, ex vivo experiments were conducted on normal rat lungs to assess the robustness of this approach in low SNR biological tissue. Simulation and experimental results indicate that calculation of shear stiffness by the principal frequency method is less sensitive to extremely low SNR than previously reported MRE inversion methods but at the expense of loss of spatial information within the region of interest from which the principal frequency estimate is derived.
shear modulus; shear stiffness; transpulmonary pressure; lungs; magnetic resonance elastography; elasticity
Systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure are substantially higher in older adults. The relative contributions of increased forward versus reflected pressure wave amplitude or earlier arrival of the reflected wave to elevated pulse pressure remain controversial.
Methods and Results
We measured proximal aortic pressure and flow, forward pressure wave amplitude, global wave reflection, reflected wave timing and pulse wave velocity noninvasively in 6417 (age range, 19 to 90 years; 53% women) Framingham Heart Study Third Generation and Offspring participants. Variation in forward wave amplitude paralleled pulse pressure throughout adulthood. In contrast, wave reflection and pulse pressure were divergent across adulthood: in younger participants, pulse pressure was lower and wave reflection higher with advancing age whereas in older participants, pulse pressure was higher and wave reflection lower with age. Reflected wave timing differed modestly across age groups despite considerable differences in pulse wave velocity. Forward wave amplitude explained 80% (central) and 66% (peripheral) of the variance in pulse pressure in younger participants (<50 years) and 90% and 84% in the older participants (≥50 years, all P<0.0001). In a stepwise model that evaluated age-pulse pressure relations in the full sample, the late accelerated increases in central and peripheral pulse pressure were markedly attenuated when variation in forward wave amplitude was considered.
Higher pulse pressure at any age and higher pulse pressure with advancing age is predominantly associated with a larger forward pressure wave. The influence of wave reflection on age-related differences in pulse pressure was minor.
aorta; arterial stiffness; pulse wave velocity; blood pressure; pulse pressure; cardiovascular disease