Arterial Stiffness and Wave Reflection: Sex Differences and Relationship With Left Ventricular Diastolic Function

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Increased arterial stiffness and wave reflection have been reported in heart failure with normal ejection fraction (HFNEF) and in asymptomatic left ventricular (LV) diastolic dysfunction, a precursor of HFNEF. It is unclear whether women, who have higher frequency of HFNEF, are more vulnerable than men to the deleterious effects of arterial stiffness on LV diastolic function. We investigated, in a large community-based cohort, whether sex differences exist in the relationship among arterial stiffness, wave reflection, and LV diastolic function. Arterial stiffness and wave reflection were assessed in 983 participants from the Cardiovascular Abnormalities and Brain Lesions study using applanation tonometry. The central pulse pressure/stroke volume index, total arterial compliance, pulse pressure amplification, and augmentation index were used as parameters of arterial stiffness and wave reflection. LV diastolic function was evaluated by 2-dimensional echocardiography and tissue-Doppler imaging. Arterial stiffness and wave reflection were greater in women compared with men, independent of body size and heart rate (all P<0.01), and showed inverse relationships with parameters of diastolic function in both sexes. Further adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors attenuated these relationships; however, a higher central pulse pressure/stroke volume index predicted LV diastolic dysfunction in women (odds ratio, 1.54; 95% confidence intervals, 1.03 to 2.30) and men (odds ratio, 2.09; 95% confidence interval, 1.30 to 3.39), independent of other risk factors. In conclusion, in our community-based cohort study, higher arterial stiffness was associated with worse LV diastolic function in men and women. Women's higher arterial stiffness, independent of body size, may contribute to their greater susceptibility to develop HFNEF.

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