Proximal aortic distensibility is an independent predictor of all-cause mortality and incident CV events: the MESA study

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Dec 23;64(24):2619-2629. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.09.060.


Background: The predictive value of ascending aortic distensibility (AAD) for mortality and hard cardiovascular disease (CVD) events has not been fully established.

Objectives: This study sought to assess the utility of AAD to predict mortality and incident CVD events beyond conventional risk factors in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis).

Methods: AAD was measured with magnetic resonance imaging at baseline in 3,675 MESA participants free of overt CVD. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to evaluate risk of death, heart failure (HF), and incident CVD in relation to AAD, CVD risk factors, indexes of subclinical atherosclerosis, and Framingham risk score.

Results: There were 246 deaths, 171 hard CVD events (myocardial infarction, resuscitated cardiac arrest, stroke and CV death), and 88 HF events over a median 8.5-year follow-up. Decreased AAD was associated with increased all-cause mortality with a hazard ratio (HR) for the first versus fifth quintile of AAD of 2.7 (p = 0.008) independent of age, sex, ethnicity, other CVD risk factors, and indexes of subclinical atherosclerosis. Overall, patients with the lowest AAD had an independent 2-fold higher risk of hard CVD events. Decreased AAD was associated with CV events in low to intermediate- CVD risk individuals with an HR for the first quintile of AAD of 5.3 (p = 0.03) as well as with incident HF but not after full adjustment.

Conclusions: Decreased proximal aorta distensibility significantly predicted all-cause mortality and hard CV events among individuals without overt CVD. AAD may help refine risk stratification, especially among asymptomatic, low- to intermediate-risk individuals.

Keywords: aortic stiffness; cardiovascular risk; magnetic resonance imaging; mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aorta* / pathology
  • Aorta* / physiopathology
  • Asymptomatic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis* / diagnosis
  • Atherosclerosis* / ethnology
  • Atherosclerosis* / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Cause of Death
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vascular Stiffness*