Effect of upper body position on arterial stiffness: influence of hydrostatic pressure and autonomic function

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate changes in arterial stiffness with positional change and whether the stiffness changes are due to hydrostatic pressure alone or if physiological changes in vasoconstriction of the conduit arteries play a role in the modulation of arterial stiffness.

Methods:

Thirty participants’ (male = 15, 24 ± 4 years) upper bodies were positioned at 0, 45, and 72° angles. Pulse wave velocity (PWV), cardio-ankle vascular index, carotid beta-stiffness index, carotid blood pressure (cBP), and carotid diameters were measured at each position. A gravitational height correction was determined using the vertical fluid column distance (mmHg) between the heart and carotid artery. Carotid beta-stiffness was calibrated using three methods: nonheight corrected cBP of each position, height corrected cBP of each position, and height corrected cBP of the supine position (theoretical model). Low frequency systolic blood pressure variability (LFSAP) was analyzed as a marker of sympathetic activity.

Results:

PWV and cardio-ankle vascular index increased with position (P < 0.05). Carotid beta-stiffness did not increase if not corrected for hydrostatic pressure. Arterial stiffness indices based on Method 2 were not different from Method 3 (P = 0.65). LFSAP increased in more upright positions (P < 0.05) but diastolic diameter relative to diastolic pressure did not (P > 0.05).

Conclusion:

Arterial stiffness increases with a more upright body position. Carotid beta-stiffness needs to be calibrated accounting for hydrostatic effects of gravity if measured in a seated position. It is unclear why PWV increased as this increase was independent of blood pressure. No difference between Methods 2 and 3 presumably indicates that the beta-stiffness increases are only pressure dependent, despite the increase in vascular sympathetic modulation.

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