Background: Arterial stiffness measures such as pulse wave velocity (PWV) have a known dependence on actual blood pressure, requiring consideration in cardiovascular risk assessment and management. Given the impact of ageing on arterial wall structure, the pressure-dependence of PWV may vary with age.
Methods: Using a noninvasive model-based approach, combining carotid artery echo-tracking and tonometry waveforms, we obtained pressure-area curves in 23 hypertensive patients at baseline and after 3 months of antihypertensive treatment. We predicted the follow-up PWV decrease using modelled baseline curves and follow-up pressures. In addition, on the basis of these curves, we estimated PWV values for two age groups (mean ages 41 and 64 years) at predefined hypertensive (160/90 mmHg) and normotensive (120/80 mmHg) pressure ranges.
Results: Follow-up measurements showed a near 1 m/s decrease in carotid PWV when compared with baseline, which fully agreed with our model-prediction given the roughly 10 mmHg decrease in diastolic pressure. The stiffness-blood pressure-age pattern was in close agreement with corresponding data from the 'Reference Values for Arterial Stiffness' study, linking the physical and empirical bases of our findings.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that the innate pressure-dependence of arterial stiffness may have implications for the clinical use of arterial stiffness measurements, both in risk assessment and in treatment monitoring of individual patients. We propose a number of clinically feasible approaches to account for the blood pressure effect on PWV measurements.