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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2003 Apr 1;23(4):554-66. Epub 2003 Feb 6.

Noninvasive assessment of arterial stiffness and risk of atherosclerotic events.

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Clinical Pharmacology Unit and Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, Scotland, UK.


Investigation of arterial stiffness, especially of the large arteries, has gathered pace in recent years with the development of readily available noninvasive assessment techniques. These include the measurement of pulse wave velocity, the use of ultrasound to relate the change in diameter or area of an artery to distending pressure, and analysis of arterial waveforms obtained by applanation tonometry. Here, we describe each of these techniques and their limitations and discuss how the measured parameters relate to established cardiovascular risk factors and clinical outcome. We also consider which techniques might be most appropriate for wider clinical application. Finally, the effects of current and future cardiovascular drugs on arterial stiffness are also discussed, as is the relationship between arterial elasticity and endothelial function.

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