Objectives: The goal of this study was to investigate the relation between serum cholesterol, arterial stiffness and central blood pressure.
Background: Arterial stiffness and pulse pressure are important determinants of cardiovascular risk. However, the effect of hypercholesterolemia on arterial stiffness is controversial, and central pulse pressure has not been previously investigated.
Methods: Pressure waveforms were recorded from the radial artery in 68 subjects with hypercholesterolemia and 68 controls, and corresponding central waveforms were generated using pulse wave analysis. Central pressure, augmentation index (AIx) (a measure of systemic stiffness) and aortic pulse wave velocity were determined.
Results: There was no significant difference in peripheral blood pressure between the two groups, but central pulse pressure was significantly higher in the group with hypercholesterolemia (37 +/- 11 mm Hg vs. 33 +/- 10 mm Hg [means +/- SD]; p = 0.028). Augmentation index was also significantly higher in the patients with hypercholesterolemia group (24.8 +/- 11.3% vs. 15.6 +/- 12.1%; p < 0.001), as was the estimated aortic pulse wave velocity. In a multiple regression model, age, short stature, peripheral mean arterial pressure, smoking and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol correlated positively with AIx, and there was an inverse correlation with heart rate and male gender.
Conclusions: Patients with hypercholesterolemia have a higher central pulse pressure and stiffer blood vessels than matched controls, despite similar peripheral blood pressures. These hemodynamic changes may contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease associated with hypercholesterolemia, and assessment may improve risk stratification.