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PLoS One. 2016 Jul 29;11(7):e0160243. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160243. eCollection 2016.

Ethnic Differences in Arterial Wave Reflection Are Mostly Explained by Differences in Body Height - Cross-Sectional Analysis of the HELIUS Study.

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Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Department of Cardiology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



Differences in arterial wave reflection and central blood pressure (BP) have been associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in various populations and may contribute to ethnic differences in CVD. Whether ethnic differences in wave reflection and central BP can be explained by conventional risk factors for CVD or may result from physiological differences remains undetermined.


We examined ethnic differences in augmentation index (AIx) and central systolic BP and their determinants in a large multi-ethnic cohort study in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. A total of 8812 (46% male) participants aged 18-70 years of Dutch, South-Asian Surinamese, African Surinamese and Ghanaian origin were included. AIx and central BP were measured in duplicate using the Arteriograph system.


AIx and central systolic BP were significantly higher in South-Asian Surinamese (35±17%, 126±22 mmHg), African Surinamese (33±17%, 129±23 mmHg) and Ghanaian (33±16%, 135±24 mmHg) as compared with Dutch (27±17%, 118±20 mmHg, all p<0.001). Correction for cardiovascular risk factors only slightly reduced the difference in AIx, whereas correction for body height attenuated age and gender corrected ethnic differences in AIx the most. Differences in central systolic BP were primarily determined by differences in AIx for South-Asian Surinamese and by differences in peripheral systolic BP for subjects of African origin.


Substantial differences in AIx and central BP exist across different ethnic groups that cannot be explained by differences in conventional risk factors for CVD. These findings may explain part of the underestimation of cardiovascular risk observed in populations of African and South-Asian descent.

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