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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Feb 18;43(4):616-23.

The relative importance of vascular structure and function in predicting cardiovascular events.

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Department of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



We sought to assess the prognostic utility of brachial artery reactivity (BAR) in patients at risk of cardiovascular events.


Impaired flow-mediated vasodilation measured by BAR is a marker of endothelial dysfunction. Brachial artery reactivity is influenced by risk factors and is responsive to various pharmacological and other treatments. However, its prognostic importance is uncertain, especially relative to other predictors of outcome.


A total of 444 patients were prospectively enrolled to undergo BAR and follow-up. These patients were at risk of cardiovascular events, based on the presence of risk factors or known or suspected cardiovascular disease. We took a full clinical history, performed BAR, and obtained carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and left ventricular mass and ejection fraction. Patients were followed up for cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Multivariate Cox regression analysis was performed to assess the independent association of investigation variables on outcomes.


The patients exhibited abnormal BAR (5.2 +/- 6.1% [mean +/- SD]) but showed normal nitrate-mediated dilation (9.9 +/- 7.2%) and normal mean IMT (0.67 +/- 0.12 mm [average]). Forty-nine deaths occurred over the median follow-up period of 24 months (interquartile range 10 to 34). Patients in the lowest tertile group of BAR (<2%) had significantly more events than those in the combined group of highest and mid-tertiles (p = 0.029, log-rank test). However, mean IMT (rather than flow-mediated dilation) was the vascular factor independently associated with mortality, even in the subgroup (n = 271) with no coronary artery disease and low risk.


Brachial artery reactivity is lower in patients with events, but is not an independent predictor of cardiovascular outcomes in this cohort of patients.

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