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Radiology. 2013 Jun;267(3):709-17. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13121598. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

White matter hyperintensities: use of aortic arch pulse wave velocity to predict volume independent of other cardiovascular risk factors.

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Department of Radiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.



To evaluate the relationship between pulse wave velocity (PWV) from the aortic arch and subsequent cerebral microvascular disease independent of other baseline cardiovascular risk factors among the participants in the multiethnic Dallas Heart Study.


Each subject gave written consent to participate in this HIPAA-compliant, institutional review board-approved prospective study. Aortic arch PWV was measured with phase-contrast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in a population sample (n = 1270) drawn from the probability-based Dallas Heart Study. Seven years later, the volume of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) was determined from brain MR images. Linear regression was conducted with aortic arch PWV, 15 other cardiovascular risk factors, and age, sex, and ethnicity included as predictors of WMH. The authors implemented a smoothly clipped absolute deviation-penalized variable selection method to evaluate an optimal predictive risk factor model.


Aortic arch PWV helped predict WMH volume independent of the other demographic and cardiovascular risk factors (regression coefficient: 0.29; standard error: 0.06; 95% confidence interval: 0.17, 0.42; P < .0001). The optimal predictor variables of subsequent WMH volume adjusted for sex and ethnicity included aortic arch PWV, age, systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, and congestive heart failure. The authors estimated that a 1% increase in aortic arch PWV (in meters per second) is related to a 0.3% increase in subsequent WMH volume (in milliliters) when all other variables in the model are held constant.


Aortic arch PWV measured with phase-contrast MR imaging is a highly significant independent predictor of subsequent WMH volume, with a higher standardized effect than any other cardiovascular risk factor assessed except for age. In an optimal predictive model of subsequent WMH burden, aortic arch PWV provides a distinct contribution along with systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, congestive heart failure, and age.

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