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It has been suggested that arteries age more quickly in borderline hypertensives (BHT) than in normotensives. If this hypothesis is correct, the decrease in distensibility and compliance in the carotid artery bifurcation should be most pronounced in the carotid artery bulb, because this site is known to be the most affected by age.Arterial distensibility was measured non-invasively by means of an ultrasound vessel wall moving-detector system at various sites along the carotid artery bifurcation in BHT and normotensive controls.Sixteen bifurcations of male BHT (mean age 38 years) and 15 bifurcations of normotensive age-matched controls (NTO) were studied in subjects from a population study on borderline hypertension. To evaluate age-related changes, 18 bifurcations of normotensive young male subjects (NTY; mean age 24 years) were included in the study.In NTY subjects no significant variations in distensibility were found along the carotid artery bifurcation, but in NTO subjects the proximal and distal parts of the carotid artery bulb were significantly less distensible than the common carotid artery. In BHT the distensibility was significantly lower at all levels in the bulb than in the common carotid artery, and its proximal part was significantly stiffer than the rest of the bulb.The findings in this study indicate faster ageing of the carotid artery bifurcation in male BHT than in normotensives of comparable age. In particular, the proximal part of the carotid artery bulb, where the baroreceptors are predominantly located, is most affected by the disease.