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Atherosclerosis. 2012 Feb;220(2):387-93. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.08.007. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Arterial pulse wave velocity in relation to carotid intima-media thickness, brachial flow-mediated dilation and carotid artery distensibility: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study and the Health 2000 Survey.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Physiology, University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, FI-33521, Tampere, Finland.



Increased arterial pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a strong predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality. The data regarding the relationships between PWV and other indices of vascular damage is limited and partly controversial. We conducted the present study to examine PWV in relation to non-invasive measures of early atherosclerosis (brachial flow-mediated dilation [FMD], carotid intima-media thickness [IMT]) and local arterial stiffness (carotid artery distensibility [Cdist]).


The study population consisted of 1754 young adults (aged 30-45 years, 45.5% males) participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (YFS), and of 336 older adults (aged 46-76 years, 43.2% males) participating in the Health 2000 Survey. FMD was measured only in the YFS cohort. FMD, IMT and Cdist were assessed by ultrasound, and PWV was measured using the whole-body impedance cardiography device.


In young adults, FMD and IMT were not associated with PWV independently of cardiovascular risk factors. Moreover, FMD status was not found to modulate the association between cardiovascular risk factors and PWV. In older adults, PWV and IMT were directly and independently associated (β=1.233, p=0.019). In both cohorts, PWV was inversely related with Cdist, and this relation remained significant (p<0.04) in models adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors.


The current findings suggest that PWV reflects a different aspect of vascular damage than FMD or IMT in young adults, whereas in older adults the information provided by PWV and IMT may be, to some extent, similar as regards subclinical vascular damage. The present observations also suggest that PWV and Cdist represent, at least in part, a similar adverse vascular wall process.

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