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Hypertension. 2007 Jul;50(1):228-33. Epub 2007 May 14.

Isolated systolic hypertension is characterized by increased aortic stiffness and endothelial dysfunction.

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  • 1Clinical Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Isolated systolic hypertension is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. It is thought to result from large artery stiffening, which is determined by structural components within the vasculature but also by functional factors including NO and endothelin-1. We hypothesized that endothelial dysfunction would account for increased arterial stiffness in patients with isolated systolic hypertension. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between endothelial function and arterial stiffness in these patients along with control subjects. We studied 113 subjects: 35 patients with isolated systolic hypertension (mean age+/-SD: 68+/-6 years), 30 age-matched control subjects (65+/-5 years), and 48 young control subjects (37+/-9 years). Aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) was derived by sequential carotid/femoral waveform recordings. Conduit artery endothelial function was determined by flow-mediated dilatation. Aortic PWV was higher (9.65+/-2.56 m/s versus 8.26+/-0.85 m/s; P=0.009), and flow-mediated dilatation was lower (2.67+/-1.64% versus 4.79+/-3.1%; P=0.03) in patients with isolated systolic hypertension compared with age-matched control subjects. Similarly, aortic PWV was also higher, and flow-mediated dilatation lower, in older versus young control subjects (8.26+/-0.85 m/s versus 7.09+/-1.01 m/s and 4.79+/-3.1% versus 6.94+/-2.7%; P=0.004 for both). Overall, aortic PWV correlated inversely with flow-mediated dilatation (r=-0.3; P=0.001), which remained significant after adjustment for confounding factors (P=0.01). Patients with isolated systolic hypertension have higher aortic PWV and decreased endothelial function compared with age-matched control subjects. Our results suggest that endothelial function contributes significantly to increased arterial stiffness in patients with isolated systolic hypertension and with age.

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