Ten-year longitudinal change in aortic stiffness assessed by cardiac MRI in the second half of the human lifespan: the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

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Longitudinal determinants of aortic stiffness (AS) measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have not been assessed in a large community-based population. Our aim was to examine the determinants of change in thoracic AS over 10 years of follow-up in a multi-ethnic population of individuals 45 years of age and older measured by MRI.

Methods and results

We studied 1160 participants (mean age = 60 ± 9 years at baseline, 45% male) with aortic MRI at both the MESA Year 0 and Year 10 examinations. Ascending and descending aorta distensibility (AAD/DAD) and aortic arch pulse-wave velocity (PWV) were measured using MRI. Determinants of the change in AS parameters over 10 years were assessed using linear regression adjusted for baseline values, demographic variables, baseline risk factors and change in risk factors, and chronic risk exposure. AAD and DAD decreased slightly (5% decrease in median for AAD: 1.33–1.26 mmHg−1 · 10−3, P = 0.008; 5% decrease in median for DAD: 1.73–1.64 mmHg−1 · 10−3, P < 0.001), and PWV increased over 10 years (18% increase in median: 6.8–8.0 m/s P < 0.001). Baseline age was related to a reduction in AAD and DAD and an increase in PWV throughout the follow-up period. Baseline and change in mean blood pressure and continued smoking were associated with a reduction in AAD and an increase in PWV. Furthermore, baseline heart rate was also related to a reduction in AAD and DAD. Blood pressure normalization was related to less aortic stiffening throughout the follow-up period.


In our longitudinal, community-based cohort study of adult individuals aged 45 years or greater, greater mean blood pressure and a history of smoking history were associated with increased aortic stiffening over 10 years as assessed by MRI.

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