Objectives: This study investigated the effect of age and gender on central arterial hemodynamic variables derived from noninvasive tonometric carotid pressure waveforms.
Background: Women have a greater age-related increase in left ventricular (LV) mass than do men and are more likely to experience symptomatic heart failure after infarction despite their higher ejection fraction. In studies of these changes, ventricular afterload is incompletely defined by brachial blood pressure (BP) measurements. We hypothesized that there exist gender differences in pulsatile vascular load, as revealed by pressure waveform analysis, which may produce suboptimal afterload conditions in women.
Methods: Data from 350 healthy normotensive subjects (187 female) aged 2 to 81 years were analyzed in decade groups. Augmentation index (AIx, the difference between early and late pressure peaks divided by pulse pressure) was used as an index of pulsatile afterload, and the ratio of diastolic to systolic pressure-time integral gave a subendocardial viability index. Heart rate, BP, ejection duration and maximal rate of pressure rise (dP/dt(max)) were also determined.
Results: Male subjects had a slightly higher systolic pressure until age 50. Female subjects had higher systolic pressure augmentation after the 1st decade, a difference that was significant after age 30 (p < 0.005 for each decade). In both males and females there was a strong age dependence for AIx (r = 0.77, p < 0.001 for females, r = 0.66, p < 0.001 for males). Although males had a larger body size and higher systolic pressure, systolic pressure-time integral was similar in males and females across all age groups. Diastolic pressure-time integral was consistently lower in females because of their shorter diastolic period. Subendocardial viability index was lower in females across the entire group. Differences in stature and heart rate may contribute to these findings.
Conclusions: These new data may help to explain previous findings in women of an age-related increase in LV mass and excess symptomatic heart failure that are not explained by differences in brachial BP.