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Hypertension. 2008 Dec;52(6):1120-6. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.119024. Epub 2008 Oct 13.

Increased aortic pulse wave velocity is associated with silent cerebral small-vessel disease in hypertensive patients.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre, and Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. leon.henskens@intmed.unimaas.nl


Aortic stiffness predicts an excess risk of stroke, supposedly via cerebral small-vessel disease. White matter hyperintensities, silent lacunar infarcts, and brain microbleeds, manifestations of cerebral small-vessel disease on neuroimaging, may precede overt cerebrovascular disease. Therefore, we assessed whether aortic stiffness is also related to such lesions. In 167 hypertensive patients (85 men) without a history of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, a mean age of 51.8+/-13.1 years, and untreated office blood pressure levels of 169+/-25/104+/-12 mm Hg, we determined aortic pulse wave velocity and office and ambulatory 24-hour pulse pressure (off medication), as well as the volume of white matter hyperintensities and the presence of lacunar infarcts and microbleeds using brain MRI. Linear and logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the relationships between the arterial stiffness measures and brain lesions. Aortic stiffness and pulse pressure were significantly related to each of the brain lesions in univariate analyses (P<0.05). Multivariate analyses, adjusted for age, sex, brain volume, mean arterial pressure, and heart rate, showed that a higher pulse wave velocity was significantly associated with a greater volume of white matter hyperintensities (unstandardized regression coefficient: 0.041; 95% CI: 0.005 to 0.078; P<0.05) and the presence of lacunar infarcts (odds ratio [per SD increase in pulse wave velocity]: 1.78; 95% CI: 1.06 to 2.99; P<0.05) but not with microbleeds. The models for pulse pressure failed to reach statistical significance in multivariate analyses. In conclusion, aortic stiffness is independently associated with manifestations of cerebral small-vessel disease in hypertensive patients, linking systemic large- to cerebral small-artery disease.

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