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J Hypertens. 2002 Nov;20(11):2165-72.

Arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women: determinants of pulse wave velocity.

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  • 1Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht and Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


OBJECTIVE To investigate the degree and potential cardiovascular determinants of arterial stiffness, assessed by aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) measurements, and to relate arterial stiffness to absolute 10-12-year risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and death, as estimated by available risk functions, in postmenopausal women. METHOD We performed a cross-sectional study among 385 postmenopausal women, aged 50-74 years, sampled from the general population. Arterial stiffness was assessed non-invasively by measurement of aortic PWV using applanation tonometry. Information on health was obtained by medical history, registration of current medication, and physical examination. Height, weight, waist and hip circumferences, fasting glucose, total and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, resting blood pressure, and heart rate were measured. Three risk scores were used to estimate, for each individual, the absolute risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death within 10-12 years as a function of their cardiovascular risk factor profile. The relationship between PWV and these risk scores was subsequently determined. RESULTS Significant positive relationships with PWV were found for body mass index, fasting glucose, diabetes mellitus, and triglycerides in analyses adjusted for age, mean arterial blood pressure, and heart rate. Height and HDL cholesterol were inversely related to PWV. The risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death increased with increasing PWV in a linear graded manner. CONCLUSIONS This cross-sectional study among postmenopausal women provides evidence that most of the established cardiovascular risk factors are determinants of aortic PWV. Increased PWV marks an increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death within 10-12 years.

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