Blood Pressure and Obesity Exert Independent Influences on Pulse Wave Velocity in Youth

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The objective was to analyze pulse wave velocity (PWV) in normotensive, high-normal, and hypertensive youths by using aortic-derived parameters from peripheral recordings. The impact of obesity on vascular phenotypes was also analyzed. A total of 501 whites from 8 to 18 years of age were included. The subjects were divided according to BP criteria: 424 (85%) were normotensive, 56 (11%) high-normal, and 21 (4%) hypertensive. Obesity was present in 284 (56%) and overweight in 138 (28%). Pulse wave analysis using a SphygmoCor device was performed to determine central blood pressure (BP), augmentation index, and measurement of PWV. Among the BP groups, differences appeared in age, sex, and height but not in body mass index. Significant differences in peripheral and central systolic and diastolic BPs and pulse pressures were observed within groups. A graded increase in PWV was present across the BP strata without differences in augmentation index. Using a multiple regression analysis, age, BP groups, and obesity status were independently associated with PWV. Older and hypertensive subjects had the highest PWV, whereas, from normal weight status to obesity, PWV decreased. Likewise, PWV was positively related to peripheral or central systolic BP and negatively related to body mass index z score. For 1 SD of peripheral systolic BP, PWV increased 0.329 m/s, and for 1 SD of body mass index z score PWV decreased 0.129 m/s. In conclusion, PWV is increased in hypertensive and even in high-normal children and adolescents. Furthermore, obesity, the factor most frequently related to essential hypertension in adolescents, blunted the expected increment in PWV of hypertensive and high-normal subjects.

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