Arterial ageing is characterized by increasing arterial stiffness as measured by pulse wave velocity (PWV). This process is enhanced in participants with early vascular ageing (EVA), but slowed in participants with healthy vascular ageing (HVA). We aimed to describe characteristics of EVA and HVA in a transcontinental study including 11 cohorts.
In all, 18 490 participants from the global MARE Consortium, free of cardiovascular disease, participated with data on PWV and cardiometabolic risk factors. We defined HVA as the lowest 10% and EVA as the highest 10% of the standardized PWV distribution, adjusted for age intervals. HVA individuals were compared with the 90% of non-HVA individuals with ANCOVA, adjusted for age, sex and hypertension.
The 1723 HVA participants were at the same age as the rest of the population, more likely women (59.4 vs 57.0%), and with significantly lower levels of established cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure, lipids, glucose). Similarly, the prevalence rate of obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and the metabolic syndrome was lower in the HVA participants. In the presence of similar levels of cardiovascular risk factors, HVA participants in the 50–64 years of age group presented lower PWV 5.8 (SD 0.5) vs. 7.4 (1.4) m/s (P < 0.0001) than control individuals in the 35–49 years of age group, corresponding to an estimated difference in chronological age of 14 years.
Participants with healthy vascular ageing (HVA), belonging to the lowest end of the PWV distribution, are in general characterized by an up to 14 years estimated younger biological (vascular) age than those with higher PWV values, and have lower levels of risk factors.