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Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2014 Aug 23;12:34. doi: 10.1186/1476-7120-12-34.

Intima media thickness, pulse wave velocity, and flow mediated dilation.

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Department of Clinical & Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Roma, 67 560110 Pisa, Italy.


The identification of vascular alterations at the sub-clinical, asymptomatic stages are potentially useful for screening, prevention and improvement of cardiovascular risk stratification beyond classical risk factors.Increased intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery is a well-known marker of early atherosclerosis, which significantly correlates with the development of cardiovascular diseases. More recently, other vascular parameters evaluating both structural and functional arterial proprieties of peripheral arteries have been introduced, for cardiovascular risk stratification and as surrogate endpoints in clinical trials. Increased arterial stiffness, which can be detected by applanation tonometry as carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, has been shown to predict future cardiovascular events and to significantly improve risk stratification.Finally, earlier vascular abnormalities such as endothelial dysfunction in the peripheral arteries, detected as reduced flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery, are useful in the research setting and as surrogate endpoints in clinical trials and have also been suggested for their possible clinical use in the future.This manuscript will briefly review clinical evidence supporting the use of these different vascular markers for cardiovascular risk stratification, focusing on the correct methodology, which is a crucial issue to address in order to promote their use in future for routine clinical practice.

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