Influence of arterial wave reflection on carotid blood pressure and intima-media thickness in older endurance trained men and women with pre-hypertension

Kevin S Heffernan, Sae Young Jae, Emily Tomayko, Muhammad R Ishaque, Bo Fernhall, Kenneth R Wilund
Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging 2009, 29 (3): 193-200
Increased carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) with aging is a significant predictor of mortality. Older endurance trained (ET) individuals have lower carotid artery stiffness but similar carotid IMT when compared to sedentary (SED) age-matched peers. The purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of arterial wave reflections to carotid hemodynamics and IMT in older ET and SED with pre-hypertension. Subjects consisted of endurance-trained master athletes and age-matched sedentary controls (mean age 67 years). Carotid artery Beta-stiffness index and IMT was assessed with ultrasonography. Carotid pressure and augmented pressure from wave reflections (obtained from pulse contour analysis) was measured with applanation tonometry. Carotid systolic blood pressure (SBP) and IMT were not different between groups (P>0.05). Carotid stiffness was significantly lower in ET versus SED (7.3 +/- 0.8 versus 9.9 +/- 0.6, P<0.05). Augmented pressure was significantly greater in ET versus SED (17.7 +/- 1.6 versus 13.3 +/- 1.5 mmHg, P<0.05). When adjusting for differences in resting heart rate, there were no group differences in augmented pressure. In conclusion, older ET persons with pre-hypertension have reduced carotid artery stiffness, but similar carotid SBP and carotid IMT when compared to SED. The lack of change in carotid SBP and IMT in older ET may be related to the inability of chronic exercise training to reduce bradycardia-related augmented pressure from wave reflections with aging.

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