Objective: The aim of this study was to test whether systemic hypertension influences brachial and carotid artery remodeling in postmenopausal women. A secondary aim was to evaluate the possible role of pulse pressure.
Methods: We enrolled 100 postmenopausal women affected by hypertension (cases) and 100 women with blood pressure within the reference range (controls) matched for age and body mass index because the influence of these variables on artery diameter is well known. Clinical and biochemical parameters were also assessed. All women underwent B-mode ultrasonography to measure the carotid and brachial artery diameter.
Results: The case group had significantly larger brachial and common carotid artery diameters than control groups (P < 0.001). This result did not change after correction for confounding variables. Indeed, the women with hypertension had higher glucose and insulin levels and greater carotid atherosclerosis prevalence than did the control population. A multivariate linear regression analysis showed a correlation between artery diameters and hypertension status in the whole population. To evaluate the influence of pulse pressure, each group (cases and controls) was divided into two subgroups, according to the group-specific pulse pressure median. The women with a pulse pressure rate higher than the median value had larger artery diameters compared with those with lower pulse pressure rates in both groups with and without hypertension.
Conclusions: Hypertension can promote generalized artery enlargement, and pulse pressure also plays a role in artery remodeling. Interestingly, pulse pressure seems to influence arterial diameter in individuals with blood pressure within the reference range. The role of hypertension in artery remodeling behind age and the body mass index requires further investigations on the mechanisms underlying remodeling.