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Circulation. 1999 Jul 13;100(2):164-70.

Limb blood flow and vascular conductance are reduced with age in healthy humans: relation to elevations in sympathetic nerve activity and declines in oxygen demand.

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  • 1Human Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

We tested the hypothesis that basal (resting) limb blood flow and vascular conductance are reduced with age in adult humans and that these changes are related to elevations in sympathetic vasoconstrictor nerve activity and reductions in limb oxygen demand.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Sixteen young (28+/-1 years; mean+/-SEM) and 15 older (63+/-1 years) healthy normotensive adult men were studied. Diastolic blood pressure and body fat were higher (P<0.005) in the older men, but there were no other age-related differences in subject characteristics. Femoral artery blood flow (Doppler ultrasound) was 26% lower in the older men (P<0.005), despite similar levels of cardiac output (systemic arterial blood flow) in the 2 groups. Femoral artery vascular conductance was 32% lower and femoral vascular resistance was 45% higher in the older men (P<0. 005). Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (peroneal microneurography) was 74% higher in the older men (P<0.001) and correlated with femoral artery blood flow (r=-0.55, P<0.005), vascular conductance (r=-0.65, P<0.001), and vascular resistance (r=0.61, P<0.001). The age-related differences in femoral hemodynamics were no longer significant after correction for the influence of muscle sympathetic nerve activity. There were no significant age-group differences in leg tissue mass (by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), but estimated leg oxygen consumption was 15% lower in the older men (P<0.001). Femoral artery blood flow was directly related to estimated leg oxygen consumption (r=0.78, P<0.001). The age-group differences in femoral artery blood flow were no longer significant after correction for estimated leg oxygen consumption by ANCOVA.

CONCLUSIONS:

(1) Basal whole-leg arterial blood flow and vascular conductance are reduced with age in healthy adult men; (2) these changes are associated with elevations in sympathetic vasoconstrictor nerve activity; and (3) the lower whole-limb blood flow is related to a lower oxygen demand that is independent of tissue mass.

PMID:
10402446
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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