Forearm Vascular Reactivity and Arterial Stiffness in Asymptomatic Adults From the Community

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Abstract

Abstract—

Vascular reactivity may affect the stiffness characteristics of the arterial wall. We investigated the association between forearm microcirculatory and conduit artery function and measures of arterial stiffness in 527 asymptomatic non-Hispanic white adults without known cardiovascular disease. High-resolution ultrasonography of the brachial artery (ba) was performed to assess forearm microcirculatory function (ba blood flow velocity, local shear stress, and forearm vascular resistance at rest and during reactive hyperemia) and conduit artery function (ba flow-mediated dilatation [baFMD] and ba nitroglycerin-mediated dilatation [baNMD]). Arterial stiffness was assessed by cuff-derived brachial pulse pressure and aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) measured by applanation tonometry. In regression analyses that adjusted for heart rate, mean arterial pressure, height, cardiovascular risk factors, and hypertension medication and statin use, higher baseline ba systolic velocity and systolic shear stress were associated with greater pulse pressure (P=0.0002 and P=0.006, respectively) and higher aPWV (each P<0.0001). During hyperemia, lower ba mean velocity and lower mean shear stress were associated with higher pulse pressure (P=0.045 and P=0.036, respectively), whereas both systolic and mean velocity (P<0.0001 and P=0.002, respectively) and systolic and mean shear stress (P<0.0001 and P=0.003, respectively) were inversely associated with aPWV. baFMD was not associated with pulse pressure but was inversely associated with aPWV (P=0.011). baNMD was inversely associated with pulse pressure (P=0.0002) and aPWV (P=0.008). Our findings demonstrate that impaired forearm microvascular function (in the form of elevated resting blood flow velocity and impaired flow reserve) and impaired brachial artery reactivity are associated with increased arterial stiffness.

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