Long-term association of brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation and cardiovascular events in middle-aged subjects with no apparent heart disease

Int J Cardiol. 2009 May 1;134(1):52-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2008.01.021. Epub 2008 May 13.


Background: Endothelial dysfunction is considered an important prognostic factor in atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to detect the long-term association of peripheral vascular endothelial function and clinical outcome in healthy subjects without apparent coronary artery disease (CAD).

Methods: We prospectively assessed brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in 435 consecutive healthy subjects: 281 (65%) men, mean age 54+/-12 years and body mass index 28+/-4 kg/m(2). After overnight fasting and discontinuation of all medications for > or =12 h, FMD and endothelium-independent nitroglycerin-mediated vasodilation were assessed using high resolution linear array ultrasound.

Results: Subjects were divided into 2 groups: below (n=221) and above (n=214) the median FMD of 10.7%, and were comparable regarding CAD risk factors, lipoproteins, fasting glucose, C-reactive protein, and concomitant medications, with a mean clinical follow-up of 32+/-2 months. Composite cardiovascular endpoints (all-cause mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, heart failure or angina pectoris hospitalization, stroke, coronary artery bypass grafting and percutaneous coronary interventions) were significantly more common in subjects with below median FMD of 10.7%, than above (11.8% vs 4.7%, p=0.007, respectively). Univariate analysis demonstrated that median FMD significantly predicted cardiovascular events [odds ratio (OR) of 2.78 and 95% CI 1.35 to 5.71 (p=0.003)]. After multivariate analysis including conventional CAD risk factors, median FMD was the best independent predictor of long-term cardiovascular adverse events [OR of 2.70 and 95% CI 1.16 to 6.32 (p=0.011)].

Conclusions: Brachial artery median FMD independently predicts long-term adverse cardiovascular events in healthy subjects in addition to traditional risk factor assessment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachial Artery / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Cardiovascular*
  • Echocardiography
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vasodilation / drug effects
  • Vasodilation / physiology*
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Young Adult


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroglycerin