Arterial stiffness, wave reflections, and the risk of coronary artery disease

Circulation. 2004 Jan 20;109(2):184-9. doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000105767.94169.E3. Epub 2003 Dec 8.


Background: Increased arterial stiffness, determined invasively, has been shown to predict a higher risk of coronary atherosclerosis. However, invasive techniques are of limited value for screening and risk stratification in larger patient groups.

Methods and results: We prospectively enrolled 465 consecutive, symptomatic men undergoing coronary angiography for the assessment of suspected coronary artery disease. Arterial stiffness and wave reflections were quantified noninvasively using applanation tonometry of the radial artery with a validated transfer function to generate the corresponding ascending aortic pressure waveform. Augmented pressure (AP) was defined as the difference between the second and the first systolic peak, and augmentation index (AIx) was AP expressed as a percentage of the pulse pressure. In univariate analysis, a higher AIx was associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease (OR, 4.06 for the difference between the first and the fourth quartile [1.72 to 9.57; P<0.01]). In multivariate analysis, after controlling for age, height, presence of hypertension, HDL cholesterol, and medications, the association with coronary artery disease risk remained significant (OR, 6.91; P<0.05). The results were exclusively driven by an increase in risk with premature vessel stiffening in the younger patient group (up to 60 years of age), with an unadjusted OR between AIx quartiles I and IV of 8.25 (P<0.01) and a multiple-adjusted OR between these quartiles of 16.81 (P<0.05).

Conclusions: AIx and AP, noninvasively determined manifestations of arterial stiffening and increased wave reflections, are strong, independent risk markers for premature coronary artery disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aorta / physiopathology
  • Arteries / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Risk Factors