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Int J Vasc Med. 2012;2012:589213. doi: 10.1155/2012/589213. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

The importance of velocity acceleration to flow-mediated dilation.

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School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.


The validity of the flow-mediated dilation test has been questioned due to the lack of normalization to the primary stimulus, shear stress. Shear stress can be calculated using Poiseuille's law. However, little attention has been given to the most appropriate blood velocity parameter(s) for calculating shear stress. The pulsatile nature of blood flow exposes the endothelial cells to two distinct shear stimuli during the cardiac cycle: a large rate of change in shear at the onset of flow (velocity acceleration), followed by a steady component. The parameter typically entered into the Poiseuille's law equation to determine shear stress is time-averaged blood velocity, with no regard for flow pulsatility. This paper will discuss (1) the limitations of using Posieuille's law to estimate shear stress and (2) the importance of the velocity profile-with emphasis on velocity acceleration-to endothelial function and vascular tone.

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