Prediabetes and Diabetes Are Associated With Arterial Stiffness in Older Adults: The ARIC Study

Am J Hypertens. 2016 Sep;29(9):1038-45. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpw036. Epub 2016 Apr 11.


Background: To determine whether prediabetes and diabetes in older adults are associated with arterial stiffness measured in central and peripheral arteries and to examine characteristics that modify these associations.

Methods: Cohort members attending the 5th exam (2011-2013) of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study had pulse wave velocity (PWV) measures performed at the carotid-femoral (cfPWV), brachial-ankle (baPWV), and femoral-ankle (faPWV) segments. Fasting glucose ≥126mg/dl, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥6.5%, or currently taking diabetes medication defined diabetes. Fasting glucose 100-125mg/dl or HbA1c 5.7%-6.4% among those without diabetes defined prediabetes. Cross-sectional associations were modeled using multivariable linear regression.

Results: Among 4,279 eligible participants with cfPWV measures (mean age 75 years), 22% were African-American, 25.5% had diabetes, and 54.7% had prediabetes. Compared to those with normal glucose, cfPWV was 95.8cm/s higher (stiffer) on average for those with diabetes (for reference: being 1 year older was associated with 14.4cm/s higher cfPWV). Similar findings were seen for diabetes and baPWV, although attenuated. Interestingly, faPWV was 17.6cm/s lower for those with diabetes compared to normal glucose. There was a significant positive association between baPWV and prediabetes. Among those with diabetes, cfPWV was higher for those with albuminuria, reduced kidney function, duration of diabetes ≥10 years, and elevated HbA1c (HbA1c ≥7).

Conclusion: Among older adults, diabetes is associated with higher central arterial stiffness and lower peripheral arterial stiffness, and prediabetes is associated with higher baPWV. Cross-sectionally, the magnitude of the effect of diabetes on central stiffness is equivalent to 6 years of arterial aging.

Keywords: arterial stiffness; blood pressure; diabetes; hypertension; peripheral arterial stiffness; prediabetes; pulse wave velocity; race..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prediabetic State / physiopathology*
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Vascular Stiffness*