Arterial stiffness measures such as pulse wave velocity (PWV) have a known dependence on actual blood pressure, requiring consideration in cardiovascular risk assessment and management. Given the impact of ageing on arterial wall structure, the pressure-dependence of PWV may vary with age.
Using a noninvasive model-based approach, combining carotid artery echo-tracking and tonometry waveforms, we obtained pressure-area curves in 23 hypertensive patients at baseline and after 3 months of antihypertensive treatment. We predicted the follow-up PWV decrease using modelled baseline curves and follow-up pressures. In addition, on the basis of these curves, we estimated PWV values for two age groups (mean ages 41 and 64 years) at predefined hypertensive (160/90 mmHg) and normotensive (120/80 mmHg) pressure ranges.
Follow-up measurements showed a near 1 m/s decrease in carotid PWV when compared with baseline, which fully agreed with our model-prediction given the roughly 10 mmHg decrease in diastolic pressure. The stiffness-blood pressure-age pattern was in close agreement with corresponding data from the ‘Reference Values for Arterial Stiffness’ study, linking the physical and empirical bases of our findings.
Our study demonstrates that the innate pressure-dependence of arterial stiffness may have implications for the clinical use of arterial stiffness measurements, both in risk assessment and in treatment monitoring of individual patients. We propose a number of clinically feasible approaches to account for the blood pressure effect on PWV measurements.