Arterial Stiffness, Pulse Pressure, and the Kidney

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Abstract

Classical studies indicate that the contribution of kidneys to hypertension is almost exclusively related to the association between mean arterial pressure (MAP) and vascular resistance. Recent reports including estimates of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) have shown that pulse pressure (PP) and pulse wave velocity, 2 major indices of arterial stiffness, now emerge as significant predictors of cardiovascular risk and age-associated decline in GFR. Such findings are mainly observed in patients with hypertension and renal failure and in atherosclerotic subjects undergoing coronary angiography. In such patients, amplification of PP between ascending and terminal aorta at the renal site is constantly increased over 10mm Hg (P < 0.001), whereas MAP level remains continuously unmodified. This PP amplification is significantly associated with presence of proteinuria. Furthermore, increases in plasma creatinine and aortic stiffness are independently and positively correlated (P < 0.001) both in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. All these relationships associating PP, arterial stiffness, and renal function are mainly observed in patients 60 years of age or older. Furthermore, in renal transplant patients and their donors, subjects have been recruited for evaluations of arterial stiffness and posttransplant decline in GFR. Determinants of GFR decline were evaluated 1 and 9 years after transplantation. The first year GFR decline was related to smoking and acute rejection, whereas the later was significantly and exclusively associated with donor age and aortic stiffness. Thus, in hypertensive humans, the observed association between PP and GFR suggests that the 2 parameters are substantially mediated by arterial stiffness, not exclusively by vascular resistance.

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