Association between arterial stiffness and cardiovascular disease in different age groups

By Samar Mahmoud, MS
Published January 27, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • This study found that arterial stiffness, as measured by the brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV), was a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). 

  • However, the risk of CVD due to increased arterial stiffness decreased with increasing age, supporting the prognostic utility of baPWV in younger adults at risk.

Previous studies have linked arterial stiffness, which increases with advancing age, to a heightened risk of hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular events.

Why This Study Matters

While advanced age has been identified as a risk factor for CVD, it is unclear if the risk of CVD due to increased arterial stiffness is affected by age. To fill this gap, this study sought to assess the association between arterial stiffness and CVD risk in different age groups.

Study Design

The study included 41,121 patients who underwent a baPWV determination and a physical exam between 2010 and 2017. 

The study population was divided into the following age groups: <50; 50-59; 60-69; 70-79; and ≥80 years. Each group was further divided into three groups based on baPWV scores. 

The endpoint of the study was the incidence of CVD during follow-up, including stroke and myocardial infarction.  The mean follow-up period of the study was 5.12 ± 2.37 years. 

Results and Conclusions

The study was comprised of 72.48% male and 27.52% female participants, with an average age of 51.65 ± 13.28 years and a mean baPWV of 1602.43 ± 362.70 cm/s. Among the total study population, 986 cases of CVD were reported, with incidence rates of 0.12%, 3.46%, and 9.43% in the Q1, Q2, and Q3 baPWV quartile groups, respectively. 

Investigators observed a dose-dependent increase in the risk of CVD due to increased arterial stiffness, with a 30% increase in CVD risk for every 1 SD increase in baPWV. 

When taking age into account, there was a decrease in the risk of CVD and stroke with increasing age, with the risk values for CVD declining from 1.44 in the <50-year-old group to 1.08 and 0.92 in the 70- and 80-year-old groups, respectively

Related Research

Consider these findings from similar research studies:

  • In older adults at risk for cardiovascular events, increased arterial stiffness was associated with kidney disease progression (Source). 

  • Increased arterial stiffness is predictive of increased risk of all-cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes (Source).

Original Source 

Sang DS, Zhang Q, Song D, Tao J, Wu SL, Li YJ. Association between brachial‐ankle pulse wave velocity and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in different age groups. Clinical Cardiology. 2022 Jan 23. doi: 10.1002/clc.23777. Online ahead of print.

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