Killing Me Unsoftly: Causes and Mechanisms of Arterial Stiffness

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The aorta is a blood vessel that provides a low-resistance path for blood flow directed from the heart to peripheral organs and tissues. However, the aorta has another central hemodynamic function, whereby the elastic nature of the aortic wall provides a significant biomechanical buffering capacity complementing the pulsatile cardiac blood flow, and this is often referred to as Windkessel function. Stiffening of the arterial wall leads to fundamental alterations in central hemodynamics, with widespread detrimental implications for organ function. In this Recent Highlights article, we describe recent contributions in ATVB that have highlighted the novel mechanisms and consequences of arterial stiffness and the clinical conditions in which arterial stiffness occurs, with a focus on advancements in the field.

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