Arterial stiffness is associated to cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index in young Swedish adults: The Lifestyle, Biomarkers, and Atherosclerosis study

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Early changes in the large muscular arteries are already associated with risk factors as hypertension and obesity in adolescence and young adulthood. The present study examines the association between arterial stiffness measurements, pulse wave velocity and augmentation index and lifestyle-related factors, body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness, in young, healthy, Swedish adults.


This study used a population-based cross-sectional sample.


The 834 participants in the study were self-reported healthy, non-smoking, age 18–25 years. Augmentation index and pulse wave velocity were measured with applanation tonometry. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured by ergometer bike test to estimate maximal oxygen uptake. Body mass index (kg/m2) was calculated and categorised according to classification by the World Health Organisation.


Young Swedish adults with obesity and low cardiorespiratory fitness have significantly higher pulse wave velocity and augmentation index than non-obese young adults with medium or high cardiorespiratory fitness. The observed U-shaped association between pulse wave velocity and body mass index categories in women indicates that it might be more beneficial to be normal weight than underweight when assessing the arterial stiffness with pulse wave velocity. The highest mean pulse wave velocity was found in overweight/obese individuals with low cardiorespiratory fitness. The lowest mean pulse wave velocity was found in normal weight individuals with high cardiorespiratory fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness had a stronger effect than body mass index on arterial stiffness in multiple regression analyses.


The inverse association between cardiorespiratory fitness and arterial stiffness is observed already in young adults. The study result highlights the importance of high cardiorespiratory fitness, but also that underweight individuals may be a possible risk group that needs to be further studied.

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