Noninvasive Measurement of the Human Brachial Artery Pressure–Area Relation in Collapse and Hypertension

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A noninvasive method to obtain pressure–lumen area (P–A) measurements of the human brachial artery is introduced. The data obtained from this method are analyzed using a mathematical model of the relationship between vessel pressure and lumen area including vessel collapse and hypertension. An occlusive arm cuff is applied to the brachial artery of ten normal subjects. The cuff compliance is determined continuously by means of a known external volume calibration pump. This permits the computation of the P–A curve of the brachial artery under the cuff. A model is applied to analyze the P–A relation of each subject. The results show that the lumen area varies considerably between subjects. The in vivo resting P–A curve of the brachial artery possesses features similar to that of in vitro measurements. A primary difference is that the buckling pressure is higher in vivo, presumably due to axial tension, as opposed to in vitro where it is near zero or negative. It is found that hypertension causes a shift in the P–A curve towards larger lumen areas. Also, the compliance–pressure curve is shown to shift towards higher transmural pressures. Increased lumen area provides an adaptive mechanism by which compliance can be maintained constant in the face of elevated blood pressure, in spite of diminished distensibility.

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