Objective: To evaluate pulsatile components of the blood pressure as risk markers for carotid stenosis in isolated systolic hypertension.
Design: Duplex scans with Doppler measures of the blood flow velocity were used to diagnose carotid stenosis in 187 participants in the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program and in 187 normotensive and mildly hypertensive control subjects.
Methods: The systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), pulse pressure, and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were selected as independent variables. A logistic regression model for carotid stenosis was used to adjust for potentially confounding risk factors. Serial models, each containing single or double blood pressure variables, were run to compare risk markers for carotid stenosis. Receiver operating characteristic curves were compared to assess the predictive value of each model.
Results: In the multivariate analysis, both the SBP (P = 0.005) and the pulse pressure (P < 0.001) were predictive of carotid stenosis, but the DBP and MAP were not. However, when either the SBP or the pulse pressure was included in the model, the DBP was associated negatively with carotid stenosis (P < 0.001 and P = 0.023, respectively). An increased pulse pressure and a decreased DBP were independent risk markers for carotid stenosis. Comparison of receiver operating characteristic curves indicated that the pulse pressure had superior predictive value to the SBP (P = 0.034).
Conclusions: The pulse pressure is the single best predictor of carotid stenosis. There is a negative correlation between the DBP and carotid stenosis for subjects with isolated systolic hypertension, but this can be demonstrated only after one has stratified for the SBP or for the pulse pressure. Thus, the pulsatile components of the blood pressure, increased pulse pressure and decreased DBP, are the most sensitive risk markers for the diagnoses of carotid stenosis.