Progression of central pulse pressure over 1 decade of aging and its reversal by nitroglycerin a twin study

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Jan 31;59(5):475-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2011.10.871.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to examine the progression of central arterial pulse pressure (cPP) in women and the degree to which this can be reversed by nitrovasodilation.

Background: cPP can be partitioned into height of the first systolic shoulder (P1), generated by a forward pressure wave and related to arterial stiffness, and augmentation pressure (AP), thought to be influenced by pressure wave reflection from muscular arteries and/or aortic reservoir.

Methods: Using a longitudinal cohort design, cPP, P1, and AP were estimated (using the SphygmoCor System [AtCor Medical Pty Ltd., West Ryde, Australia]) in 411 female twins over a mean follow-up of 10.8 years. In a subsample (n = 42), cPP, arterial stiffness (using pulse wave velocity [PWV]) and arterial diameters (using ultrasonography) were measured before and after nitroglycerin administration (400 μg s/l).

Results: cPP increased more than peripheral pulse pressure (10.3 and 9.2 mm Hg, respectively; p < 0.0001). In women <60 years of age at follow-up, AP contributed more to the increase in cPP than did P1 (increases of 6.5 ± 6.4 mm Hg and 4.2 ± 7.8 mm Hg, respectively). P1 was significantly positively correlated to PWV (p < 0.0001); AP was correlated to aorto-femoral tapering (p < 0.0001) but not PWV. Nitroglycerin reduced cPP by 10.0 ± 6.0 mm Hg (p < 0.0001), equivalent to a decade of aging. The reduction in cPP was entirely explained by a decrease in AP, with no significant change in P1 or PWV but an increase in large artery diameters of 4% to 18% (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Age-related widening of cPP is driven in large part by an increase in AP, which can be reversed by selective dilation of muscular arteries, independent of PWV.

Publication types

  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aorta, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging
  • Aorta, Abdominal / drug effects
  • Aorta, Abdominal / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Artery / drug effects
  • Femoral Artery / physiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroglycerin / administration & dosage*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Twins*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroglycerin