Effective arterial elastance (E(A)) was proposed as a lumped parameter that incorporates pulsatile and resistive afterload and is increasingly being used in clinical studies. Theoretical modeling studies suggest that E(A) is minimally affected by pulsatile load, but little human data are available. We assessed the relationship between E(A) and arterial load determined noninvasively from central pressure-flow analyses among middle-aged adults in the general population (n=2367) and a diverse clinical population of older adults (n=193). In a separate study, we investigated the sensitivity of E(A) to changes in pulsatile load induced by isometric exercise (n=73). The combination of systemic vascular resistance and heart rate predicted 95.6% and 97.8% of the variability in E(A) among middle-aged and older adults, respectively. E(A) demonstrated a quasi-perfect linear relationship with the ratio of systemic vascular resistance/heart period (middle-aged adults, R=0.972; older adults, R=0.99; P<0.0001). Aortic characteristic impedance, total arterial compliance, reflection magnitude, and timing accounted together for <1% of the variability in E(A) in either middle-aged or older adults. Despite pronounced changes in pulsatile load induced by isometric exercise, changes in E(A) were not independently associated with changes pulsatile load but were rather a nearly perfect linear function of the ratio of systemic vascular resistance/heart period (R=0.99; P<0.0001). Our findings demonstrate that E(A) is simply a function of systemic vascular resistance and heart rate and is negligibly influenced by (and insensitive to) changes in pulsatile afterload in humans. Its current interpretation as a lumped parameter of pulsatile and resistive afterload should thus be reassessed.
Keywords: arterial load; characteristic impedance; effective arterial elastance; total arterial compliance; ventricular–arterial coupling; wave reflections.
© 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.