Background: Adverse changes in arterial structure and function, independent predictors of cardiovascular (CV) disease morbidity and mortality, are known to be associated with CV risk factors, especially in middle-aged and older adults. Although non-invasive studies in this regard are beginning to emerge in a younger age population, information is lacking on the correlates of measures of vascular structure and function obtained simultaneously by different non-invasive methods.
Methods: In 518 black and white subjects (72% white, 44% male) aged 27-43 years, vascular structure and function were measured in terms of (1) carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), (2) aorta-femoral pulse wave velocity (af-PWV), and (3) pulsatile arterial function in terms of large (C1) and small (C2) artery compliances.
Results: Blacks versus whites and males versus females had higher carotid IMT; blacks versus whites higher af-PWV; and blacks versus whites and females versus males lower C1 and C2. In a multivariate regression model, significant predictors in the order of entry into the model were systolic blood pressure, male gender, age, cigarette smoking, and LDL cholesterol for carotid IMT (R(2)=0.189); systolic blood pressure, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), cigarette smoking, and age for af-PWV (R(2)=0.200); systolic blood pressure, female gender, and HOMA-IR for C1 (R(2)=0.258); and systolic blood pressure, female gender, age, diastolic blood pressure, cigarette smoking, triglycerides, and black race for C2 (R(2)=0.394).
Conclusion: In asymptomatic young adults, CV risk factors influence adversely measures of both structure and function of the vasculature to varying degrees, with small artery compliance showing maximum variance. As part of preventive cardiology, assessment of structure/function measures of the vasculature by simple non-invasive methods may be helpful in identifying early vascular damage in a high-risk young population group.