Large artery stiffness: implications for exercise capacity and cardiovascular risk

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2002 Mar;29(3):214-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1681.2002.03622.x.


1. Large artery stiffness, or its inverse, compliance, determines pulse pressure, which, in turn, influences myocardial work capacity and coronary perfusion, both of which impact on exercise capacity and cardiovascular risk. 2. In support of a role for arterial properties in exercise performance, aerobically trained athletes (aged 30-59 years) have lower arterial stiffness than their sedentary counterparts. Furthermore, in healthy older subjects (aged 57-80 years), time to exhaustion on treadmill testing correlated positively with arterial compliance. 3. Arterial stiffness is more closely linked to exercise capacity and myocardial risk in patients with coronary disease where, independently of degree of coronary disease, those with stiffer proximal arteries have a lower exercise-induced ischaemic threshold. 4. Moderate aerobic training elevates resting arterial compliance by approximately 30%, independently of mean pressure reduction, in young healthy individuals but not in isolated systolic hypertensive patients. Rat training studies support a role for exercise training in structural remodelling of the large arteries. 5. High-resistance strength training is associated with stiffer large arteries and higher pulse pressure than matched controls. 6. Large artery stiffness is an important modulator of the myocardial blood supply and demand equation, with significant ramifications for athletic performance and ischaemic threshold in coronary disease patients. Moderate aerobic training, but not high-resistance strength training, reduces large artery stiffness in young individuals whereas older subjects with established isolated systolic hypertension are resistant to such adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Lifting / physiology