Beyond blood pressure: Arterial stiffness as a new biomarker of cardiovascular disease

J Am Soc Hypertens. 2008 May-Jun;2(3):140-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jash.2007.09.002.


Arterial stiffness of the large, elastic conduit arteries is considered a risk marker of vascular aging, as well as a new biomarker of cardiovascular (CV) disease. Arterial stiffness also plays an important role in the development of isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) in the middle-aged and elderly population. ISH is characterized by an increase in pulse pressure (PP) in association with a rise in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and a fall in diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Increased PP, however, is not always a good surrogate for arterial stiffening because of the frequent discrepancy between peripheral brachial and central aortic PP values due to varying pressure amplification. Therefore, noninvasive, easily performed methods for more direct measurement of arterial stiffness and wave reflection, such as aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) and pulse wave analysis, have been developed for clinical use. The present review aims to provide an understanding of the pathophysiology of arterial stiffness and wave reflection, to review the various techniques for their measurement, and to explore their usefulness in predicting CV risk and therapeutic benefit in comparison with traditional brachial artery cuff blood pressure (BP) by sphygmomanometry.