Arterial stiffness cut-off value and white matter integrity in the elderly

Neuroimage Clin. 2020:26:102007. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2019.102007. Epub 2019 Sep 16.


Objective: Central artery stiffness is a confirmed predictor of cardiovascular health status that has been consistently associated with cognitive dysfunction and dementia. The European Society of Hypertension has established a threshold of arterial stiffness above which a cardiovascular event is likely to occur. However, the threshold at which arterial stiffness alters brain integrity has never been established.

Methods: The aim of this study is to determine the arterial stiffness cut-off value at which there is an impact on the white matter microstructure. This study has been conducted with 53 cognitively elderly without dementia. The integrity of the white matter was assessed using diffusion tensor metrics. Central artery stiffness was evaluated by measuring the carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV). The statistical analyses included 4 regions previously denoted vulnerable to increased central arterial stiffness (the corpus callosum, the internal capsule, the corona radiata and the superior longitudinal fasciculus).

Results: The results of this study call into question the threshold value of 10 m/s cfPWV established by the European Society of Hypertension to classify patients in neuro-cardiovascular risk groups. Our results suggest that the cfPWV threshold value would be approximately 8.5 m/s when the microstructure of the white matter is taken as a basis for comparison.

Conclusions: Adjustment of the cfPWV value may be necessary for a more accurate distinction between lower and higher risk group of patients for white matter microstructural injury related to arterial stiffness. Targeting the highest risk group for prevention methods may, in turn, help preserve brain health and cognitive functions.

Keywords: Aging; Arterial stiffness; Cognition; Cut-off; Diffusion; Hypertension; MRI; White matter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Carotid-Femoral Pulse Wave Velocity / standards*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*
  • White Matter / anatomy & histology*
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging

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