Aortic stiffness can lead to low diastolic blood pressure, thereby possibly limiting coronary perfusion. Therefore, the simultaneous occurrence of both aortic stiffness and coronary atherosclerosis can lead to an increased risk of subendocardial ischaemia. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between aortic stiffness and coronary atherosclerosis.
The study was performed in 1757 subjects of the Rotterdam Study, a population-based study of elderly individuals. Aortic stiffness was assessed by measuring carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV). Coronary atherosclerosis was assessed by measuring coronary calcification using electron beam tomography and expressed as a total calcium score. The total calcium score was log-transformed because of its skewed distribution. The association between PWV and coronary calcification was first evaluated after adjustment for age, sex, mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate.
Linear regression analyses showed that increased PWV was associated with a higher log total coronary calcium score [β-regression coefficient 0.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07–0.15]. Compared with the lowest quartile of PWV, multivariate odds ratios and corresponding 95% CI for advanced coronary calcification in the second, third and fourth highest quartiles were 1.17 (0.79–1.74), 1.58 (1.07–2.34) and 2.12 (1.40–3.20), respectively.
In this large population-based study performed in elderly subjects aortic stiffness was strongly and independently associated with coronary atherosclerosis.