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Pulse wave analysis and pulse wave velocity: a critical review of their strengths and weaknesses

Davies, Justine Ina; Struthers, Allan D

Review

The study of the pulse using the technique of applanation tonometry is undergoing a resurgence with the development of new computerized equipment. We aim here to present a critical review of the uses, potential uses, strengths and weaknesses of the technique of applanation tonometry for the assessment of augmentation index and pulse wave velocity. We will review the technique of applanation tonometry, the physiological factors affecting pulse wave velocity and pulse wave analysis, the changes in pulse wave velocity and pulse wave analysis with pharmacological interventions, and the use of the technique of applanation tonometry as a prognostic tool. We conclude that, although the technique of applanation tonometry initially seems promising, several pertinent issues need to be addressed before it can be used reliably as a clinical or research tool. Importantly, use of the technique of applanation tonometry to derive the central waveform from non-invasively acquired peripheral data needs to be validated prospectively.

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK.

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr Justine Ina Davies, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1382 660111 (ext 33103); fax: +44 (0) 1392 644872; e-mail: j.i.davies@dundee.ac.uk

Received 8 July 2002 Revised 14 November 2002 Accepted 25 November 2002

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