Context: Vascular stiffness increases with advancing age and is a major risk factor for age-related morbidity and mortality. Vascular stiffness and blood pressure pulsatility are related; however, temporal relationships between vascular stiffening and blood pressure elevation have not been fully delineated.
Objective: To examine temporal relationships among vascular stiffness, central hemodynamics, microvascular function, and blood pressure progression.
Design, setting, and participants: Longitudinal community-based cohort study conducted in Framingham, Massachusetts. The present investigation is based on the 2 latest examination cycles (cycle 7: 1998-2001; cycle 8: 2005-2008 [last visit: January 25, 2008]) of the Framingham Offspring study (recruited: 1971-1975). Temporal relationships among blood pressure and 3 measures of vascular stiffness and pressure pulsatility derived from arterial tonometry (carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity [CFPWV], forward wave amplitude [FWA], and augmentation index) were examined over a 7-year period in 1759 participants (mean [SD] age: 60  years; 974 women).
Main outcome measures: The primary outcomes were blood pressure and incident hypertension during examination cycle 8. The secondary outcomes were CFPWV, FWA, and augmentation index during examination cycle 8.
Results: In a multivariable-adjusted regression model, higher FWA (β, 1.3 [95% CI, 0.5-2.1] mm Hg per 1 SD; P = .002) and higher CFPWV (β, 1.5 [95% CI, 0.5-2.6] mm Hg per 1 SD; P = .006) during examination cycle 7 were jointly associated with systolic blood pressure during examination cycle 8. Similarly, in a model that included systolic and diastolic blood pressure and additional risk factors during examination cycle 7, higher FWA (odds ratio [OR], 1.6 [95% CI, 1.3-2.0] per 1 SD; P < .001), augmentation index (OR, 1.7 [95% CI, 1.4-2.0] per 1 SD; P < .001), and CFPWV (OR, 1.3 [95% CI, 1.0-1.6] per 1 SD; P = .04) were associated with incident hypertension during examination cycle 8 (338 cases [32%] in 1048 participants without hypertension during examination cycle 7). Conversely, blood pressure during examination cycle 7 was not associated with CFPWV during examination cycle 8. Higher resting brachial artery flow (OR, 1.23 [95% CI, 1.04-1.46]) and lower flow-mediated dilation (OR, 0.80 [95% CI, 0.67-0.96]) during examination cycle 7 were associated with incident hypertension (in models that included blood pressure and tonometry measures collected during examination cycle 7).
Conclusion: In this cohort, higher aortic stiffness, FWA, and augmentation index were associated with higher risk of incident hypertension; however, initial blood pressure was not independently associated with risk of progressive aortic stiffening.