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Hypertension. 1991 Nov;18(5):657-64.

Mechanical pressure versus intrinsic effects of hypertension on large arteries in humans.

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Centre de Médecine Préventive Cardiovasculaire, INSERM U28, Hôpital Broussais, Paris, France.


Brachial artery diameter and compliance were measured in 23 normotensive control subjects and 49 hypertensive patients. The results were compared in isobaric conditions by a modeling analysis extrapolating from the measured data a short segment of the pressure-diameter and pressure-compliance curves in the artery. A logarithmic diameter-pressure function was used as well as measurements of brachial artery blood pressure and lumen diameter (by pulsed Doppler), and of brachial-to-radial pulse wave velocity (by mechanography). The measured values of diameter and compliance in the hypertensive patients were 109% and 63%, respectively, of the control group values. By extrapolating the data via the model at the same pressure level in all subjects (the average level of mean blood pressure of the two groups), the isobaric values of diameter and compliance in the hypertensive patients were 107% and 81%, respectively, of the control group values. Overall, measured isobaric diameters and measured compliance correlated with systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressure values (p less than 0.001), whereas isobaric compliance correlated only with systolic (p less than 0.05) and pulse (p less than 0.01) pressure values. Thus, the increased diameter and reduced compliance of the brachial artery observed in hypertensive humans cannot be attributed solely to the stretching effect of elevated blood pressure, but also to intrinsic alteration of the arterial walls. These could represent either adaptative structural or functional changes secondary to the chronic increase in arterial pressure, or primary abnormalities of the vessel wall.

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