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Hypertension. 2001 Dec 1;38(6):1440-5.

Brachial artery elastic mechanics in patients with heart failure.

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  • 1Research Division, Saint Paul Heart Clinic, St. Paul, MN 55102, USA.


Studies of arterial elasticity in patients with heart failure (HF) have produced varying results. In addition, the direct effects of smooth muscle relaxation on arterial wall mechanics in these patients have not been well characterized. Nineteen patients with New York Heart Association class II to IV HF and 17 age- and size-matched normal subjects were studied by using a recently validated technique for measuring brachial arterial wall mechanics over a wide pressure range. The left brachial artery was imaged through a water-filled blood pressure cuff by use of an ultrasound wall-tracking system at baseline and after 0.4 mg sublingual nitroglycerin (NTG). Simultaneous radial artery pressure waveforms were recorded by tonometry. Transmural pressure (TP) was reduced by increasing water pressure in the cuff. Baseline area, compliance, and pulse wave velocity versus TP curves were similar in the normal subjects and the patients with HF. The incremental elastic modulus versus TP curve tended to be lower in the patients with HF. The wall-to-lumen ratio was increased in HF (P=0.05). NTG significantly shifted the area versus TP (P<0.001) and compliance versus TP (P<0.05) curves upward and the pulse wave velocity versus TP (P<0.05) curve downward in both groups. NTG also significantly (P<0.001) shifted the stress versus strain curve to the right in both groups but did not alter the incremental elastic modulus versus TP curve. We conclude that the brachial arterial wall-to-lumen ratio is increased in HF. This finding occurs together with a trend toward reduced arterial stiffness such that overall mechanical behavior of the brachial artery is preserved. Smooth muscle relaxation with NTG produces similar improvements in brachial arterial wall mechanics in normal subjects and in patients with HF.

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