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Effect of acute maximal exercise on vasodilatory function and arterial stiffness in African-American and white adults

Schroeder, Elizabeth C.a; Ranadive, Sushant M.b; Yan, Huiminc; Lane-Cordova, Abbi D.d; Kappus, Rebecca M.e; Cook, Marc D.f; Fernhall, Boa

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000002049

Introduction: African-Americans are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared with their white counterparts, potentially due to greater arterial stiffness and reduced vasodilatory capacity. Racial differences also exist in arterial stiffness and blood pressure (BP) following maximal aerobic exercise; African-Americans do not exhibit central post exercise BP reductions. Whether impaired vasodilatory function contributes to the lack of BP response is unknown.

Purpose: To evaluate vasodilatory function, arterial stiffness, and hemodynamics following a maximal aerobic exercise test in young, healthy African-American and white adults.

Methods: Twenty-seven African-American and 35 white adults completed measures at baseline, 15 and 30 min after a maximal exercise test. Measures included vasodilatory capacity of forearm resistance arteries, central pulse wave velocity (PWV), and carotid artery stiffness (β).

Results: Forearm reactive hyperemia was greater in white but increased similarly following exercise in both groups (P < 0.05). Carotid β-stiffness increased at 15 and 30 min (P = 0.03) in both groups, but PWV controlled for mean arterial pressure decreased after maximal exercise (P = 0.03). White exhibited reductions in systolic and mean pressure, whereas no changes were seen for African-Americans (interaction effects: P < 0.05).

Conclusion: African-American and white adults had similar decreases in PWV, increases in β-stiffness, and increases in vasodilatory function following maximal exercise. African-American adults, however, did not display reductions in BP and had overall lower vasodilatory function in comparison with white adults. Our results suggest African-Americans exhibit similar vasodilatory function changes following aerobic exercise as their white counterparts, and therefore vasodilatory function likely does not explain the lack of BP response in African-Americans.

aDepartment of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

bDepartment of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

cDepartment of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts

dDepartment of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina at Columbia, Columbia, South Carolina

eDepartment of Health and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone

fDepartment of Human Performance and Leisure Studies, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Correspondence to Elizabeth C. Schroeder, Integrative Physiology Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1640 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60608, USA. E-mail:

Abbreviations: AIx, augmentation index; AUC, area under the curve; CVD, cardiovascular disease; FBF, forearm blood flow; FVC, forearm vascular conductance; HR, heart rate; MAP, mean arterial pressure; PWV, pulse wave velocity; RER, respiratory exchange ratio

Received 25 September, 2018

Revised 24 December, 2018

Accepted 24 December, 2018

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