Objective: Arterial elasticity decreases with aging. We evaluated the role of conventional cardiovascular risk factors in this process and studied the modifying effect of gender in a population of young adults.
Methods: 6-year follow-up study that included 1711 subjects (aged 32 ± 5 years) who had carotid artery distensibility (Cdist) measured at baseline (in 2001) and at follow-up (in 2007). Risk factors measurements included waist circumference, body mass index, lipids, glucose, C-reactive protein, smoking and family history of coronary disease.
Results: In a multivariable model, baseline age (β ± SEM = -0.024 ± 0.003, P < 0.001), waist circumference (β ± SEM = -0.005 ± 0.002, P = 0.009) and insulin (β ± SEM = -0.097 ± 0.034, P = 0.005) were associated with 6-year change in Cdist. The 6-year increase in waist circumference (β ± SEM = -0.016 ± 0.003, P < 0.001) and systolic blood pressure (β ± SEM = -0.005 ± 0.002, P = 0.006) were associated with reduced Cdist. In women, an increase in glucose was associated with reduced Cdist (β ± SEM = -0.074 ± 0.025, P = 0.004). Decreasing trend in Cdist levels was observed with increasing number of metabolic syndrome risk factors in women (P = 0.0001) but not in men (P = 0.18) (P for interaction 0.02).
Conclusions: In addition to age, increased adiposity and insulin levels were strong predictors for impaired arterial elasticity. Moreover, our results suggest that arterial function in women may be more vulnerable to the atherogenic effects of hyperglycemia and increased risk factor burden compared to men in young adulthood.
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